After a decades-long legal battle, the Supreme Court will rule on a centuries-old religious dispute that has strained relationship between communities, divided political parties and sparked deadly riots.
The Supreme Court in August decided to hear arguments every day in an effort to finally resolve the dispute over who should control the disputed land upon which lie the ruins of the 16th-century Babri Mosque, destroyed by a mob of so-called kar sevaks in 1992.
Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi will be leading a five-judge bench — Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer are the other judges— that will hand down the final verdict in a court battle involving three groups: the Sunni Waqf Board, a Muslim group, and two Hindu groups, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
Though the case harks back to several decades, the daily hearings on appeals filed against the three-way division of the disputed site by the Allahabad High Court began in 2010. A five-judge Constitutional bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, and will deliver the judgement at 10.30 am today.
The Arguments In The Case
The Muslim parties, through the Sunni Waqf Board, argued that their possession of the land is evident from the fact that they received grants for maintenance of the mosque dating back to 1528.
Hindus say the mosque was built on a site that was already holy for Hindus. Lawyers representing Ram Lalla submitted archaeological evidence that they said proved the site has long held religious sanctity for Hindus.
Muslim groups say government officials connived with Hindu priests to secretly place an idol of an infant Lord Ram inside the mosque complex in 1949.
A Political Tinderbox
The Ayodhya dispute has long dominated political discourse in India. Millions of Hindus believe the razed mosque in Ayodhya was built at the birthplace of Lord Ram.
Hindus say the site is one of their most sacred places - as sacred as Mecca is for Muslims.
Muslims, on their part, say Islamic prayers have been offered at the site since 1528, when the Babri Mosque was first built during the rule of the Islamic Mughals.
Construction of a "grand temple" in Ayodhya has long been an election promise of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which secured a second term with a landslide general election victory this year.
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