NEW DELHI: The Indian Supreme Court on Saturday ordered allotment of alternative land to Muslims for setting up of a mosque while deciding in favour of Hindus.
A five-judge bench pronounced its unanimous judgment that was reserved last month on the decades-old Ayodhya case involving the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid.
"Muslims should not be deprived of a structure; will get alternative site for masjid", the court ruled.
The ruling said the Indian government will formulate a scheme in three months to set up a board of trustees for construction of temple at the disputed structure.
" Court should preserve balance," Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said while reading out the judgment.
The court said Hindus have faith and belief that Lord Ram was born under the dome, adding that faith is a matter of individual belief.
It said there is evidence that Ram Chabutra, Sita Rasoi were worshipped by the Hindus before the British came. The court said evidence in the records shows that Hindus were in the possession of outer court of the disputed land.
"Arguments were made on archaeology report. Archaeological Survey of India's credentials are beyond doubt and its findings can’t be neglected," the Indian Supreme Court said.
The court said in its unanimous decision that titles can’t be decided on faith and belief but on the claims. The judgement stated that historical accounts indicate the belief of Hindus that Ayodhya was the birthplace of Lord Ram.
The Indian SC dismissed plea of Shia Waqf Board on a claim to the Babri Masjid.
The verdict said there is no evidence that Muslims abandoned mosque, adding that Hindus always believed birthplace of Lord Ram was in inner courtyard of mosque.
According to the court it is clearly established that Muslims offered prayer inside inner courtyard and Hindus offered prayers in outer courtyard.
Ahead of the verdict, appeals for peace were made by the Hindu and Muslim organisations and various political leaders, including the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Delhi Police said it will initiate strict legal action against mischief-mongers or those found indulging in any activity which may adversely affect the peace and public order. "Activities on social media platforms will be under observation," said the police.
Earlier, authorities banned the assembly of more than four people at one place in and around Ayodhya, a town in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. The Uttar Pradesh government has ordered all the schools and colleges to remain closed until Monday.
The destruction of the mosque in 1992 sparked massive Hindu-Muslim violence that left around 2,000 people dead. Hindu hard-liners associate Ayodhya with their god Ram, which they revere as his birthplace.
They say the mosque was built after a temple dedicated to the Hindu god was destroyed by Muslim invaders. After the demolition of the mosque, Hindus and Muslims took the issue to a lower court, which in 2010 ruled that the disputed land should be divided into three parts - two for Hindus and one for Muslims.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Indian Supreme Court's decision will put more pressure on already suppressed Muslim community.
He said Bharatiya Janata Party was sowing the seeds of hatred with its politics of hatred.
The minister said the decision which coincided with Kartarpur Border opening will exert more pressure on already suppressed community .
The minister said Pakistan Foreign Office would issue an official statement on the matter.
The Sunni Central Waqf Board - one of the respondents in the Ayodhya title suit -- is dissatisfied with the Supreme Court ruling which awarded the 2.77 acres of disputed land to Hindus.
The board said they will hold a meeting and make a decision on whether a review petition should be filed
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