While the Supreme Court's five-judge constitutional bench will give its verdict on the historic seven-decade long Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid (Ayodhya) 2.77-acre land dispute on Saturday, the land dispute was previously fought at the Allahabad High Court. The current SC-bench heard 14 appeals against the 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict. Before the SC verdict in the case, here's what the three-judge bench of the Allahabad Court judged in the five suits filed in the matter between 1950 and 1989.
Initially, the suits were placed before a Faizabad civil court. But they were eventually withdrawn and transferred to be heard by a full bench of the Allahabad High Court in 1989. Four of five suits filed in the matter were pending before the High Court prior to the judgment in 2010. While the judges concurred on most points, the judges' separate, detailed judgments, cumulatively run to over 8,000 pages.
The three-judge bench had unanimously decided that the main parties in the dispute - the Hindu parties, the Muslim parties, and the Nirmohi Akhara will jointly hold the title to the disputed property. Hence, the bench held that the disputed land should be split equally, with a third of the property going to each party. the bench consisted of Justices SU Khan, Sudhir Agarwal and Dharam Veer Sharma.
Hindu parties were awarded the portion before the central dome of the "three-domed structure" (mosque), where a makeshift idol had been kept, in view of the Hindus' belief in the area as the birthplace of Lord Ram. On the other hand, the Nirmohi Akhara was allotted a part of the property in the outer courtyard on which stood the Ram Chabutra and Sita Rasoi structures. Meanwhile, the Muslim Parties were to be given the remaining portions of the property (both inner and outer courtyard), as per the verdict.
The bench was not unanimous on its findings as to whether there existed a Hindu temple that was demolished to build the Babri Masjid. Justices Agarwal and Sharma relied on the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) findings to conclude that a Hindu temple-like structure had been demolished in order to build the Babri Masjid mosque. Justice Khan dissented to these findings saying that the Mosque was constructed over the ruins of temples which lay long before the construction of the mosque.
Similarly, the bench was ununanimous on who and when the Babri Masjid was built. Justices Khan and Sharma concluded that the mosque was constructed by the Mughal emperor Babur. But Justice Agarwal dissented stating that there was no proof that the 'it was built during the reign of Babar in 1528'.
While the dispute of the existence of a temple prior to the mosque has been contested for 461 years, the point of contention started when in December 1949, a crowd entered the mosque and installed a Hindu idol beneath the Central dome of the mosque, believed to be the birthplace of Ram. After the incident, the area was sealed off till 1986 - when it was unsealed on the orders of a civil court, allowing Hindus to worship under the Central dome of the mosque where the makeshift temple had been installed. The dispute flared in 1992, when the disputed structure was demolished, after which five cases were filed in the matter, with the Allahabad High Court pronouncing its verdict in 2010.