New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The legal battle in the politically sensitive Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute will finally see a closure on October 17 as the Supreme Court wraps up hearing in the vexatious matter. The verdict in the case is expected by November 17 -- the day the Chief Justice of India demits office.

A five-judge constitution bench, headed by Chief justice Ranjan Gogoi, also comprising of justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer, said the Muslim sides to the dispute would complete the arguments on 14 October and thereafter, two days would be granted to the Hindu parties, to sum up their rejoinders by 16 October.

Also Read | Ayodhya Case: SC hearing enters its final leg today, Sec 144 imposed across district

While the importance, both political and social, of the dispute over the 2.77 acre land needs not be elucidated, here is an overview of the matter that has been awaiting verdict for the last 69 years and what the judiciary has observed so far:

What the case is all about

The Ayodhya Land dispute revolves around a piece of land measuring around 2.77 acres. The land is considered to sacred among Hindus who believe it to be the birthplace of Lord Ram. The Muslims, however, say that the Babri masjid was built on this land.

The dispute is whether the masjid was built over the temple of Lord Ram after demolishing it in 16th century. The Hindus claim that the land is the ‘Ram Janmabhoomi’, and that Mir Baqi, one of Mughal king Babur's generals, destroyed a pre-existing temple of Rama and built a mosque called Babri Masjid.

The Hindus and the Muslims used to worship their side by side until 1885 when the head of Nirmohi Akhara filed a petition. In the petition, the Nirmohi Akhara asked for permission to pray to Ram Lalla inside the Babri Masjid. However, he was not given the permission then.

Then in 1949, idols of Ram Lalla were placed under a central dome outside the disputed structure by the Hindu activists.

In 1950, a local resident Gopal Singh Visharad filed a complaint in the civil courts requesting permission to offer prayers in the mosque where the idols were installed. The government, however, locked the place but allowed priests to worship there daily.

In 1986, a local court ordered the government to open the site for Hindu worshippers. After which then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi opened the door for the Hindus in 1989. After this incident many of the BJP’s leaders -- along with RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal workers -- ran campaigns to rebuild the Ram temple. The campaign escalated over the next three years and in 1992 the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid structure was demolished. After this communal riots took place in the country which killed more than 1,000 people.

What the court has said so far

After the communal riots, a survey to investigate Ram temple on the site was ordered by the court. ‘Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act’ passed for acquisition of land by Centre in the disputed area. Various writ petitions, including one by Ismail Faruqui, filed in Allahabad High Court challenging various aspects of the Act. Supreme Court exercising its jurisdiction under Article 139A transferred the writ petitions, which were pending in the High Court.

Then in 2002, the Allahabad High Court began hearing on determining who owned the disputed land. In 2003, the Supreme Court in the Aslam alias Bhure case said that no religious activity of any nature be allowed at the acquired land.

However, the Supreme Court in 2011 stayed the order of Allahabad High Court verdict on Ayodhya land dispute.

On March 21, 2017, Chief Justice of India JS Khehar advised peace negotiations instead of a pitched court battle, even offering help to settle the fight amicably. Then in August that year, the top court constituted a three-judge bench to hear pleas challenging the 1994 verdict of the Allahabad High Court.

On September 11, 2017, the apex court directed Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court to nominate two additional district judges within ten days as observers to deal with the upkeep of the disputed site.

Then in February 2018, the Supreme Court started hearing the civil appeals. It also rejected Subramanian Swamy’s interim plea seeking to intervene as parties in the case. Meanwhile, the UP government told the Supreme Court that some Muslim groups were trying to delay the hearing by seeking reconsideration of an observation in the 1994 verdict.

On July 6, 2018, the top court declined to refer the case to a five-judge Constitution bench. Case to be heard by a newly constituted three-judge bench on October 29. It also dismissed the PIL seeking direction to organisations and public at large to ‘behave’ and not air their views that can spoil the atmosphere till it decides the title dispute case.

On January 8, 2019, a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was set up by the Supreme Court to hear the case. However, the court reconstituted the bench on January 25.

On March 6, 2019, the top court reserved order on whether the land dispute can be settled through mediation. On August 6, 2019, the final hearing in the case was started by the Supreme Court.

The Court then said that it would wrap up the hearing in the case by October 18. However, the date was then preceded to October 17. Now the judgement in the matter will be pronounced by November 17, 2019 as CJI Gogoi will retire on that date.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma