It is the longest running legal dispute in India. Call it by any name – Babri dispute or Ram Mandir dispute, but it all simply boils down to just who owns the 60 sq feet by 40 sq feet land in Ayodhya where the Babri Masjid used to stand till December 6, 1992.
The dispute actually dates back to 1885 when the first petition was filed by the head of the Nirmohi Akhara asking for permission to offer prayers to Ram Lalla inside what was known as the Babri Masjid. But the permission was never given.
In the following year in 1886, district Judge of Faizabad court FEA Chamier gave his verdict “It is most unfortunate that a masjid should have been built on land specially held sacred by the Hindus, but as that event occurred 356 years ago, it is too late now to remedy the grievance.”
Since then and from 1950 onwards five title suits were filed in the Allahabad High Court. Out of these four are in favour of Hindus and one from the Sunni Waqf Board, All the suits stake claim to the title of the plot of land of the Babri masjid.
It the title suits which are now going to be decided by the three-judge Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court. The bench comprising of Justice SU Khan, Justice Sudhir Agarwal and Justice DV Sharma has to answer the following questions: Did a temple exist at the disputed site before 1528 when Mir Baqi constructed the Babri Masjid? If the suit filed by Sunni Waqf Board in 1961 was barred by time limitation? Was Ayodhya really the birth place of Lord Ram and is there evidence to show that Hindus have been worshipping at this place for a long time?
Another question to be answered is if Muslims had abandoned the mosque in 1934? Was the appearance of Ram Lalla’s idols inside the Babri Mosque area really an act of miracle?
These are all questions which have been deliberated extensively over the past six decades. The challenge before the court is that it is being asked to give its verdict not just on matters of fact but also matters of faith.”Courts go by facts, not by what you or someone else may feel. Faith is not something that courts pay any special attention to,” says senior advocate Harish Salve.There is yet another legal dimension to the Ayodhya dispute.The criminal case which was filed against several top Sangh Parivar leaders including LK Advani himself continues to linger on. On September 24 once the civil side to the case gets clearer, it will be the criminal case perhaps which will gain in prominence.