A to Z of Ayodhya verdict

Ayodhya verdict: The 1,045-page order — its context and contents — broken down.

Ayodhya: In Faizabad district, Awadh, famous for its sunsets by the banks of the River Saryu. Its rich history and symbolism finds space in the writings of Tulsidas and Amir Khusrau. Buddha is said to have preached here. Jainism and Sikhism too have their imprint here. The Hindu-Muslim binary of the last century has, however, left little space for this history — and the identity of Ayodhya has been limited to its being the ground zero of the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute.

Babri Masjid: The three-domed mosque that Mir Baqi built in the name of Emperor Babur, in 1528 in the Jaunpuri style, has been at the centre of the dispute. Many on the Mandir side believe that the birthplace of Lord Ram was exactly at the spot on which the Babri Masjid stood until December 6, 1992. The Supreme Court concluded that the masjid was built over a structure which was “non-Islamic”.

Constitution: The court began its order by underlining the role of the Constitution. “Constitutional values form the cornerstone of this nation and have facilitated the lawful resolution of the present title dispute through forty-one days of hearings before this Court,” says paragraph 2 of the order.

Demolition: At the time the Babri Masjid was demolished, UP had a BJP government, and P V Narasimha Rao of the Congress headed the government at the Centre. On Pages 913-14, the judgment says: “The destruction of the mosque took place in breach of the order of status quo and an assurance given to this Court. The destruction of the mosque and the obliteration of the Islamic structure was an egregious violation of the rule of law.”

Equity: “Equity” appears 101 times in the order, including in the title of the section, ‘Applicable legal regime and Justice, Equity and Good Conscience’. The judgment quotes widely from legal scholars on Equity, and reads it into Article 142 of the Constitution: “The phrase ‘is necessary for doing complete justice’ is of a wide amplitude and encompasses a power of equity which is employed when the strict application of the law is inadequate to produce a just outcome… It is in seeking this ultimate balance for a just society that we must apply justice, equity and good conscience…”

Faith: The judgment asserts the centrality of evidence to decisions, not faith and belief. However, a 116-page “Addenda” establishes the evidence of faith, ending with: “It is thus concluded on the conclusion that faith and belief of Hindus since prior to construction of Mosque and subsequent thereto has always been that Janamasthan of Lord Ram is the place where Babri Mosque has been constructed which faith and belief is proved by documentary and oral evidence discussed above.”

Governments: Central to the way in which a local land dispute grew into a critical moment in the history of contemporary India, is the role played by successive governments over a century and a half — from the British who erected a wall between the inner and outer portions of the Babri premises, to those of Rajiv Gandhi’s which ordered the locks opened and Narasimha Rao’s which acquired 67.7 acres in 1993. Each of these actions had powerful consequences, some of which have been recorded in the judgment.

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