M Siddiq (D) Thr Lrs vs Mahant Suresh Das & Ors

M Siddiq (D) Thr Lrs vs Mahant Suresh Das & Ors 

Bench: Ranjan Gogoi(CJ), Sa Bobde(J), Ashok Bhushan(J), Dy Chandrachud(J), Sa Nazeer(J)

M Siddiq (D) Thr Lrs                                           …Appellants


Mahant Suresh Das & Ors                                  …Respondents


The Ram Mandir case, also known as the Ayodhya dispute, is a long-standing legal battle that revolves around the ownership and control of a religious site in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, India. The primary point of contention in this case is the Babri Masjid, a mosque constructed in the 16th century during the Mughal era. Hindus believe that the mosque was built upon the birthplace of Lord Rama, a revered deity in Hinduism. In December 1992, a group of Hindu activists demolished the mosque, leading to widespread communal riots and the eventual filing of multiple legal cases.

  • Historical Dispute: The dispute over the site in Ayodhya where the Babri Masjid once stood has deep historical roots. Hindus claim that the site is the birthplace of Lord Rama and that a Hindu temple dedicated to him existed there before the mosque was built. Muslims assert that the mosque was constructed by Mughal Emperor Babur in the 16th century and that it was a functioning mosque for centuries.
  • Idol Placement: In 1949, idols of Lord Rama were mysteriously placed inside the Babri Masjid, which led to disputes over the site’s ownership. The government locked the mosque, and Muslims were prevented from offering prayers there.
  • Babri Masjid Demolition: On December 6, 1992, a large mob of Hindu activists demolished the Babri Masjid. This event triggered widespread communal riots and violence across India.


The Ayodhya dispute has raised several complex issues that have been the subject of intense legal scrutiny over the years:

a) Ownership: The central issue in the case is the rightful ownership of the disputed site. Hindus assert that the land belongs to them historically, arguing that a temple dedicated to Lord Rama existed there before the mosque’s construction. Muslims, on the other hand, claim ownership based on the presence of the Babri Masjid for centuries.

b) Religious Significance: The case also delves into the religious significance of the site. For Hindus, Ayodhya is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Rama, one of their most revered deities. They argue that the land is sacred and that a temple dedicated to Lord Rama once stood there. On the other hand, Muslims emphasize the importance of the Babri Masjid, which has been a place of worship for them for centuries. They assert their right to continue practicing their faith at the site.

c) Demolition of the Babri Masjid: . The demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992 by a group of Hindu activists is another critical issue in the case. This event led to a significant escalation in communal tensions and resulted in a wide-ranging legal and political fallout. Legal proceedings have sought to address the culpability of the individuals and organizations involved in the demolition.


The procedural history of the Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid case is complex and spans several decades. Here is an overview of the key legal milestones in the case:

  1. Pre-Independence Era:
    • The dispute over the site dates back to the pre-independence period.
    • In 1885, a civil suit was filed by Mahant Raghubir Das, seeking permission to build a canopy on the Ram Chabutra, a raised platform adjacent to the Babri Masjid.
    • In 1949, idols of Lord Rama were placed inside the mosque, leading to the first legal dispute.
  2. Post-Independence Era:
    • In 1950, two suits were filed in the Faizabad Civil Court—one by the Sunni Central Waqf Board and another by a Hindu party.
    • The government locked the Babri Masjid and declared the site as a disputed area.
    • In 1959, the Nirmohi Akhara filed a suit for the possession of the disputed site.
  3. 1970s-1980s:
    • In 1974, the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) launched a movement to demand the construction of a Ram temple at the site.
    • In 1986, the locks of the Babri Masjid were opened by a district judge, allowing Hindus to worship inside the mosque.
    • The government acquired the disputed land in 1991 to maintain status quo.
  4. Babri Masjid Demolition (1992):
    • On December 6, 1992, the Babri Masjid was demolished by a large mob of Hindu activists.
    • This event triggered widespread communal violence and led to legal proceedings against those involved in the demolition.
  5. Legal Proceedings:
    • Multiple legal cases were filed in various courts, including the Allahabad High Court and the Supreme Court of India, to determine the ownership and title of the disputed site.
    • The cases involved extensive examination of historical, archaeological, and religious evidence.
  6. Allahabad High Court Verdict (2010):
    • In September 2010, the Allahabad High Court delivered a verdict that divided the disputed land into three equal parts among the Hindu parties (Nirmohi Akhara, Ram Lalla Virajman, and the Sunni Waqf Board).
    • This verdict was appealed to the Supreme Court.
  7. Supreme Court Proceedings and Verdict (2019):
    • The Supreme Court of India conducted extensive hearings and deliberations on the appeals against the Allahabad High Court verdict.
    • In November 2019, the Supreme Court delivered a historic verdict, ruling in favour of the construction of a Hindu temple at the disputed site. It cited the faith and belief of the Hindu community regarding Lord Rama’s birthplace.
    • The court also ordered the allocation of a separate, five-acre piece of land to the Sunni Waqf Board for the construction of a mosque in Ayodhya.
  8. Post-Verdict Developments:
    • Following the Supreme Court’s verdict, the construction of the Ram Mandir at the disputed site began.
    • Efforts were made to ensure the peaceful resolution of the dispute and promote communal harmony.


The main contentions in the Ram Mandir case can be summarized as follows:

a) Hindus:

  • Historical Ownership: Hindus claim historical ownership of the site, asserting the existence of a temple dedicated to Lord Rama that predates the mosque’s construction.
  • Religious Significance: They emphasize the religious importance of the site, which is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Rama, and argue that it must be restored as a place of worship for Hindus.
  • Temple Beneath the Mosque: Hindus argue that the Babri Masjid was built by demolishing the pre-existing temple dedicated to Lord Rama. They cite historical and archaeological evidence to support this claim.

b) Muslims:

  • Ownership through Continuity: Muslims assert ownership based on the uninterrupted presence of the Babri Masjid at the site for several centuries. They argue that the mosque has been an integral part of their religious heritage.
  • Religious Significance: Muslims highlight the historical and religious importance of the Babri Masjid for their community. They assert their right to continue offering prayers at the site.
  • Restoration or Compensation: Muslims call for the restoration of the mosque or suitable compensation if the mosque cannot be reconstructed.


 The rationale behind various legal and judicial decisions in the Ram Mandir case can be outlined as follows:

a) Historical Evidence: Courts examined historical documents, archaeological findings, and expert opinions to determine the existence of a pre-existing temple at the disputed site. Archaeological surveys supported the claim of a Hindu structure beneath the mosque.

b) Religious Beliefs: The courts recognized the deeply held religious beliefs of Hindus and Muslims in the case. The Supreme Court of India acknowledged the significance of the site for both communities.

c) Statute of Limitations: The doctrine of adverse possession was considered, which suggests that if a party has been in possession of a property for a long time, they acquire a legal right to it. In this context, it was debated whether Muslims had acquired ownership of the land through adverse possession.

d) Demolition: Legal proceedings were initiated against those responsible for the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Criminal charges were filed, and various individuals were held accountable for their role in the demolition.


The Ram Mandir case was not without its legal complexities and criticisms:

a) Lengthy Legal Proceedings: The case spanned several decades, leading to concerns about the delay in resolving the dispute. Critics argued that the extended legal process exacerbated communal tensions and hindered the possibility of a timely resolution.

b) Lack of Concrete Evidence: While archaeological findings suggested the presence of a Hindu structure beneath the mosque, there was no definitive evidence to conclusively establish the existence of a temple dedicated to Lord Rama before the Babri Masjid’s construction. This lack of irrefutable evidence added to the legal complexities of the case.

c) Emotional and Political Factors: The case was highly charged with emotional and political implications, which some argued influenced the judicial process and the eventual decision. The issue had significant ramifications in Indian politics, with various political parties and groups taking positions on the matter.

d) Communal Tensions: The Ayodhya dispute had a history of communal violence and tensions, and the legal proceedings sometimes added fuel to these tensions. The sensitivities surrounding the case often made it challenging to strike a balance between legal considerations and the potential for social unrest.


 In November 2019, the Supreme Court of India delivered its landmark verdict in the Ram Mandir case, ending decades of legal battles. The Court’s key rulings were:

a) Ownership: The disputed site was awarded to the Hindus for the construction of a Ram Mandir. The Court acknowledged the existence of a Hindu religious structure beneath the mosque and found that the mosque was not built on vacant land. This decision recognized the historical and religious significance of the site for Hindus.

b) Alternative Land for Muslims: To address the concerns of the Muslim community, the Court ordered the allocation of five acres of land at an alternative site in Ayodhya for the construction of a mosque. This decision aimed to provide Muslims with a place of worship in the vicinity while resolving the dispute.

c) Criminal Proceedings: Criminal proceedings against those responsible for the demolition of the Babri Masjid were allowed to continue. This decision upheld the principle of accountability for the destruction of a religious structure.

The Supreme Court’s verdict aimed to strike a balance between the religious sentiments of both Hindus and Muslims while resolving the long-standing dispute. It marked the end of legal battles over the site and paved the way for the construction of a Ram Mandir at the disputed location, along with the allocation of an alternative site for a mosque. However, it’s essential to recognize that the case remains a significant chapter in India’s history, highlighting the complex interplay of law, religion, politics, and communal harmony in the country.

                                                                           NITIN RAJ SINGH

                                                              ICFAI UNIVERSITY, DEHRADUN

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