The Ayodhya case has 50 parties⁠— but you need to know only these 7 claims

IANS

More than a century-old religious dispute⁠— the first case was filed in 1885⁠— became a land title suit is awaiting the final word from India’s Supreme Court, which is expected to give its verdict in the Ram Temple-Babri Masjid (mosque) dispute in Ayodhya very soon.

The Hindu sides contend there should be a temple for Lord Rama in the 2.7 acre land because one was destroyed for construction of the Babri Masjid in the 16th century. The dispute continued escalating until December 6, 1992 when the mosque was demolished by those who wanted a temple.

As it stood at the Supreme Court, there are 50 parties in the case but the broad issue is whether there should be a temple or a mosque in the disputed site or should the land be divided among the sparring parties as ruled by the Allahabad High Court in 2010.


The Allahabad High Court divided the Ayodhya title into three equal parts between the Nirmohi Akhara, Lord Ram the deity represented by Triloki Nath Pandey (an RSS volunteer and Vishva Hindu Parishad functionary), and the Sunni Waqf Board.

The appeals at the Supreme Court are against this verdict and the contentions of all 50 parties to the case can be subsumed in the claims of the three primary parties to the case who got parts of the land in the High Court case.

Ram Lalla Virajman

Interestingly, the reference to Ram Lalla Virajman is to the deity of Lord Rama, represented by a human, legally called ‘next friend’, Trilok Nath Pandey, a member of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

Both in India and the UK courts, there are legal precedents that have accepted deities as juristic entities in the past.

The primary claims of Ram Lalla are as follows:

  • Decree of declaration stating that the entire site (building and adjacent area) belongs to the deity.
  • Perpetual injunction against the defendants, prohibiting them from interfering in any manner in the construction of a new temple under the trusteeship of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas.
  • The representative of Ram Lalla is opposed to the division of the land title as it holds that the deity is indivisible.
Nirmohi Akhara

The Nirmohi Akhara is a math (a monastery) for ascetic devotees of Lord Rama. The Akhara claims to be existence since at least 1400 AD, according to some accounts, and that it has been managing the temple much before the construction of the mosque. With the current appeal at the Supreme Court, the Akhara wants the management and control of the temple back in its hands. For that, the Court has to first agree that a temple can be built there.

The Akhara only came into the national spotlight in 1959 when it moved the court against the transfer of control of the disputed site to the state government.

That 1959 lawsuit was borne out of incident on December 22, 1949 when a set of Hindu idols were placed under the dome of the Babri Masjid. But the Akhara has claimed that those idols were always there.

  • stay the operation of the High Court's judgment that granted the three-domed structure to the Sunni Waqf Board and Shri Ram Virajman
  • Allow pooja (worships and rituals) of Lord Rama at the site and bar anyone from removing the deities as directed by the Supreme Court in the 1993 judgement.
Gopal Singh Visharad

Gopal Singh Visharad is an individual who moved the Faizabad court in 1950 demanding his right to worship at the disputed site saying his ancestors had been doing so before the mosque was established. Later that year, another appellant, Paramhans Ram Chandra Das, filed a suit seeking permission for "worship and darshan without any check, obstruction or interference".

The Faizabad civil judge consolidated the suits filed by Visharad and Das and in the final verdict handed the disputed site over to the state government, which is when the Nirmohi Akhara jumped into the court battle demanding rights over the land.

The Sunni Central Board of Waqfs

A Waqf is a body recognized by Muslim Law, the Sharia, which owns and manages properties donated for a religious purpose. They are regulated earlier under the Waqf Act of 1954, and now under the Waqf Act of 1995, approved by the Indian Parliament.

In the Ayodhya dispute, the Sunni Waqf Board has spearheaded the claims of the Muslim community from 1961, after the state government had seized control through the Faizabad court verdict. The Board wanted control over the mosque and the removal of the idols inside.

The consolidation of the three cases⁠— Visharad, Das, and the Sunni Waqf Board⁠— became the main case in 1964.

After the demolition of the Babri Masjid by kar sevaks, members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, in 1992, the Waqf Board sought to get the mosque restored.

After 2010, the Board appealed at the Supreme Court against the division of the disputed site into three parts by the Allahabad High Court.

Shia WAQF Board

Interestingly, despite being a Muslim organisation, the Shia Waqf Board (representing a sect) has supported the cause for a temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya and sought that the Muslim parties should give up their claim.

The Shia Waqf Board has claimed ownership of the disputed land, not the Sunni Waqf Board. Babur, who is said to have built the mosque in the disputed site, was from the Shia sect among Muslims.

The Shia Waqf Board has appealed that the Supreme Court must hand over the part of land that was given to the Sunni Waqf Board, by the Allahabad High Court verdict, to the Hindu parties.

In return, the Shia Waqf Board has demanded that the Babri Masjid must be rebuilt in another site.

See also:
A curious rift emerges in Sunni Waqf Board-a party to Ayodhya case-ahead of a verdict

Ayodhya issue: Days ahead of a verdict, Muslim parties refuse mediation and settlement

Lawyer tears up pictoral map as courtroom drama peaks on the last day of Ayodhya arguments

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