After 69 years, the Ayodhya dispute finally saw the Supreme Court deliver a judgment.
In a 1045-page verdict, a five-member Constitution bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Chief Justice designate SA Bobde, Justices DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer, unanimously held that "The Allahabad High Court was wrong in dividing the disputed site into three parts (in 2010)."
The bench went on to observe that by exercising its powers under Article 142 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court must ensure that a wrong committed is remedied and directed the Centre to form an Ayodhya trust for building of the temple while announcing five acres of alternate land at a prominent spot in the temple town for Muslims.
Senior Supreme Court Advocate KV Dhananjay said the judgment "will receive wide acceptance from the mainstream Hindu community. However, it also raises several questions and may not be the last word on this dispute."
He said that of the three sides who were party to the dispute, the judgment by the Supreme Court "keeps out two sides - the Muslims and the Nirmohi Akhara - and has allocated the disputed site exclusively to one side only, the idol/diety side faction of the Hindus".
This was a surprise as "to begin with, the Nirmohi Akhara was the one that fiercely fought the Muslims and took control of the outer courtyard of the Mosque in the 18th century. Historical records from 1776 point to such control of the outer courtyard by the Nirmohi Akhara, martial sect of the Hindus. They have been associated with the disputed site since then."
The judgment depriving the Akhara "of the entire disputed land may surprise many".
Dhananjay also said a question could be raised on why the Supreme Court after recognising the rights of Muslims to get relief preferred to allot them land elsewhere and not at the disputed site itself.
"Yes, the judgment does ask the Government to allocate five acres of land to the Muslim side to build a Mosque. Though the Supreme Court undoubtedly has such powers under Article 142 of the Constitution, the question still remains why it would – after recognising that the Muslims too deserve relief in this case - not allocate any land to them in the disputed site itself, but confer land outside it instead. More such questions are likely moving forward," he stressed.
Hear the full interview here: