The Enduring Legacy of the Ayodhya Dispute: A Chronicle of India’s Longest Legal Battle

This article has been written by Parshant, a 4th year student of VMS College of Law, Batala  


India, renowned for its rapid advancement and rich diversity, is a nation where religious sentiments hold profound significance. While the reverence towards religion is deeply ingrained, it also serves as a double-edged sword, susceptible to exploitation by politicians for their own agendas. Exploiting the age-old tactic of “Divide and rule,” politicians leverage religious emotions to sway public opinion and garner votes. This manipulation often leads to religious tensions and, at times, erupts into violence, a stark reality not uncommon in a country as diverse as India.

Despite enshrining secularism in its Constitution to uphold the cultural fabric and traditions of all religions, India grapples with disharmony stemming from varying mindsets and beliefs. This disharmony often manifests in prolonged disputes that necessitate legal intervention, such as the landmark case of M Siddiq (D) Thr Lrs v. Mahant Suresh Das & Ors, famously known as the Ayodhya Dispute.

In the backdrop of this socio-political landscape, the chant “Mandir wahi banayenge” (“We will build the temple there”) reverberates through society, encapsulating the fervent sentiment surrounding the Ayodhya Dispute. Herein, we delve into the historical context, underlying issues, and eventual verdict of this consequential legal battle.

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

The widely recognized “Ayodhya Dispute Case” has traversed the tenures of all Prime Ministers since India’s independence. At its core, this dispute encompasses social, religious, historical, and political dimensions, revolving around a piece of land in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. Over an extended period, this case unfolded, culminating in a landmark verdict delivered by the Supreme Court on November 9, 2019.

Fact of the case

The city of Ayodhya, known as the birthplace of Lord Rama to Hindus and the location of the Babri Mosque, constructed by the Mughal emperor Babur in 1528, holds a complex religious and historical significance. The tensions between the Hindu and Muslim communities in Ayodhya date back to the 1850s, with the first religious violence erupting over a mosque near Hanuman Garhi.

Local Hindu sentiments have long clamored for control over the land where the Babri Mosque once stood, asserting that it was built upon the ruins of a Hindu temple. Despite colonial refusals to entertain such demands, the issue persisted. In 1949, Hindu activists from the Akhil Bharatiya Ramayana Mahasabha orchestrated a continuous recitation of Ramcharitmanas, culminating in the forcible placement of idols inside the mosque. Attempts by then-Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to remove the idols were thwarted by local officials fearing communal unrest.

Subsequently, both the Sunni Waqf Board and the Akhil Bharatiya Ramayana Mahasabha initiated civil suits asserting their religious rights over the site. The legal saga commenced in 1950 when Gopal Singh Visharad, representing the Hindu Mahasabha, filed a petition seeking access to the site. Over the years, various legal entities, including the Nirmohi Akhara and the Sunni Central Waqf Council, filed counterclaims, further entangling the legal battle over Ayodhya’s disputed land.

Issues raised

The issue of this case pertained to the dispute over the ownership of a piece of land traditionally recognized as the birthplace of Lord Rama, coupled with the historical context of the Babri Mosque

Major issue in this case was:

  • Whether a pre-existing Hindu temple was destroyed or altered to build a mosque during Babur’s era?

Written submission of parties to the case

Following a comprehensive 14-day hearing, the Supreme Court allotted each involved party in the case a period of 3 days for written submissions, delineating their respective prayers and arguments. Below is a synopsis of the written statements provided by the various parties involved in the case:

Nirmohi Akhara

If the verdict favors any of the Hindu parties, the Akhara should retain the authority to serve the deity. Additionally, permission to construct a Ram temple on the disputed site should be granted, with the Nirmohi Akhara entrusted to oversee the premises post-construction.

In the event that the court upholds the 2010 verdict of the High Court of Allahabad and the Muslim parties refrain from construction on the disputed site, they should be requested to lease their portion of the land to the Hindu parties for the establishment of a substantial Ram temple. (The High Court verdict allocated the disputed land into three segments: one each for the Sunni Waqf Council, the Nirmohi Akhara, and Ram Lalla).

Furthermore, the court ought to mandate the government to allocate land to the Muslim side for the construction of a mosque outside the contentious area.

Ram Lalla Virajman

In the written submission representing Ram Lalla Virajman, it is asserted that the entirety of the disputed land should be awarded to Ram Lalla. The statement explicitly opposes the allocation of any portion of the disputed land to either the Nirmohi Akhara or the Muslim parties.

Ram Janambhoomi Punar Sudhar Samiti:

– Advocates exclusively for the construction of a Ram temple on the disputed site in Ayodhya.

– Proposes the establishment of a trust to manage the temple post-construction.

Gopal Singh Visharad:

– Asserts his constitutional right to offer prayers at Ram Janmabhoomi, citing ancestral rituals performed at the temple site for generations.

– Emphasizes the importance of upholding the sanctity of the Ram Janmabhoomi case without compromise.

Sunni Waqf Board:

– Seeks the restoration of Babri Masjid to its pre-destruction state, as advocated during the hearings.

– The Commission’s counsel, Rajeev Dhawan, stresses the desire for the mosque to regain its original form before its demolition on December 6, 1992.

Hindu Mahasabha:

– Advocates for the formation of a trust by the Supreme Court to manage the construction and administration of the Ram temple on the disputed site in Ayodhya.

– Proposes the appointment of an administrator by the Supreme Court to oversee the affairs of this trust.

Shia Waqf Board:

– During their plea before the High Court of Allahabad, they urged the Muslim parties to relinquish their claim on the disputed land and transfer it to the Hindu parties for the construction of a Ram temple.

– In their written submission, the Shia Waqf Board asserts that a Ram temple should be constructed on the disputed site in Ayodhya.

– They emphasize that the Shia Waqf Council holds rightful ownership of the disputed land, disputing the claim of the Sunni Waqf Council.

– They advocate for the land allocated to the Sunni Waqf Council in the High Court’s order to be transferred to the Hindu parties.


In August to October 2019, a bench of five judges of the Supreme Court heard the litigation cases concerning the title. On 9th November 2019, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi delivered the verdict. The previous ruling was overturned, and the land was deemed to belong to the government based on tax records. Furthermore, it was decreed that the land be entrusted to a trust for the construction of a Hindu temple. Additionally, the government was instructed to allocate another five-acre parcel of land to the Waqf Sunni Council for the construction of a mosque.

Here are the key points highlighted in the Judgment of the Ayodhya case:

  • The Supreme Court awarded the entire 2.77 acres of disputed land in Ayodhya to the deity Ram Lalla.
  • The Court directed the Central and Uttar Pradesh governments to provide 5 acres of alternative land to Muslims in a prominent location for the construction of a mosque.
  • The Court suggested considering some form of representation for Nirmohi Akhara to establish a trust, as it was a significant party in the Ayodhya conflict.
  • The plea of Nirmohi Akhara to control all disputed lands, claiming custodianship, was rejected by the Supreme Court.
  • A trust was ordered to be established by the Union government within 3 months for the construction of the Ram Mandir on the site where Babri Masjid was demolished in 1992.
  • The Court determined that the structure beneath the disputed site in Ayodhya was not of Islamic origin, but it was inconclusive whether a temple was demolished to build a mosque.
  • Both Hindus and Muslims consider the disputed site to be of religious significance, with Hindus believing it to be Lord Ram’s birthplace and Muslims holding the same sentiment for the site of Babri Masjid.
  • The Court affirmed that the Hindu belief regarding Lord Rama’s birthplace on the disputed site could not be contested.
  • The 1992 demolition of the 16th-century Babri Masjid mosque was deemed illegal by the Supreme Court.
  • The Court concluded that the UP’s Waqf Central Sunni Council failed to establish its claim in the Ayodhya dispute, while Hindus were found to be in possession of the outer courtyard of the disputed site.

From Conflict to Resolution: A Quick Timeline

Here’s a concise timeline of the Ayodhya dispute:

  • December 6, 1992: Babri mosque demolition by around 200,000 Karsevaks triggers communal riots nationwide.
  • December 16, 1992: Congress-led government under PV Narasimha Rao establishes a commission of inquiry headed by Judge Liberhan.
  • August 6, 2019: Supreme Court’s 5-judge constitutional bench, led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, initiates final hearings on the case.
  • October 16, 2019: Final hearings conclude, and the bench reserves judgment. Parties given three days to submit written notes on the issues for the court’s decision.
  • November 9, 2019: Final judgment delivered. Supreme Court orders the land’s transfer to a trust for the construction of Ram Temple. Government directed to allocate 5 acres within Ayodhya to Sunni Waqf Council for mosque construction.
  • December 12, 2019: Supreme Court dismisses all review petitions against the verdict.


This case holds significant historical importance as it stands as one of the longest-standing disputes in Indian judicial history, spanning the tenures of all Prime Ministers from Jawaharlal Nehru to Narendra Modi. Ultimately, on November 9, 2019, the dispute was brought to resolution. The Supreme Court’s approach aimed at fostering harmony and striking a balance between religious sentiments. It granted the entire 2.77 acres of disputed land in Ayodhya to the deity Ram Lalla, while also directing the government to allocate 5 acres of alternative land in a prominent location for Muslims to build a mosque.

In my view, it’s imperative to shift our focus towards addressing the real issues that plague our nation, such as poverty, unemployment, and agricultural concerns. Rather than succumbing to the religious narratives propagated by politicians for their electoral gains, we should remain vigilant and not fall prey to the divisive tactics employed under the guise of “Divide and rule”. This case serves as a stark reminder of how religious issues are often exploited as burning agendas in political elections, diverting attention from crucial developmental challenges.

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