Supreme Court on Ayodhya case: Temple at disputed site and to allot alternative land for mosque.

The Supreme Court in a unanimous verdict on Saturday cleared the way for the construction of a Ram Temple at the disputed site at Ayodhya, and directed the Centre to allot a 5-acre plot to the Sunni Waqf Board for building a mosque.

In one of the most important and most anticipated judgements in India’s history, a 5-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi put an end to the more than a century old dispute that has torn the social fabric of the nation.

The apex court said the mosque should be constructed at a “prominent site” and a trust should be formed within three months for the construction of the temple at the site many Hindus believe Lord Ram was born.

The site was occupied by the 16th century Babri mosque which was destroyed by Hindu kar sevaks on December 6, 1992.

The bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer, said possession of the disputed 2.77 acre land rights will be handed over to the deity Ram Lalla, who is one of the three litigants in the case. The possession however will remain with a central government receiver.

The Supreme Court said the Hindus have established their case that they were in possession of outer courtyard and the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board has failed to establish its case in the Ayodhya dispute.

Delivering its verdict in the politically-sensitive case of Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute in Ayodhya, the apex court directed allotment of alternative land to Muslims to build a new mosque.

The apex court said the extensive nature of Hindus worshipping at outer courtyard at the disputed site has been there, and the evidence suggests the Muslims offered Friday prayers at mosque which indicates that they had not lost possession of the site.

It said that despite obstruction caused in offering prayers at Mosque, the evidences suggest that there was no abandonment in offering prayers.

The apex court further said that the underlying structure below the disputed site at Ayodhya was not an Islamic structure, but the ASI has not established whether a temple was demolished to build a mosque.

It said that terming the archeological evidence as merely an opinion would be a great disservice to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

The court also said that the Hindus consider the disputed site as the birthplace of Lord Ram and even Muslims say this about that place.

The faith of the Hindus that Lord Ram was born at the demolished structure is undisputed, the apex court said.

The bench said the existence of Sita Rasoi, Ram Chabutra and Bhandar grih are the testimony of the religious fact of the place.

The apex court said however that the title cannot be established on the ground of faith and belief and they are only indicators for deciding the dispute.

Supreme Court to hear Ayodhya land dispute case Friday

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Friday the issues relating to the Ayodhya’s Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case.

A notice in this regard was put up on the apex court website which said that the matter will be heard by a five-judge Constitution bench comprising Chief justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer.

The matter will come for the first time on Friday since March 8 order by which the top court had referred the decades-old politically sensitive case for mediation by a panel headed by former apex court judge F M I Kalifulla for exploring the possibility of an amicable settlement.

Spiritual guru and founder of Art of Living foundation Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu, a renowned mediator, are the other two members of the panel of mediators.

The panel was asked by the apex court to hold an in-camera proceedings and complete it within eight weeks.

Nobody for opaqueness, but judiciary can’t be destroyed in name of transparency: SC

Nobody wants a “system of opaqueness” but in the name of transparency the judiciary cannot be destroyed, the Supreme Court said Thursday, while hearing the appeals of its registry against the Delhi High Court order that the CJI’s office falls under the ambit of RTI Act.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi reserved its verdict on three appeals filed in 2010 by Secretary General of the Supreme Court and the Central Public Information officer of the apex court against the High Court and the CIC’s orders after lawyer Prashant Bhushan and Attorney General K K Venugopal concluded submissions.

“Nobody is for a system of opaqueness. Nobody wants to remain in the state of darkness or keep anybody in the state of darkness. The question is drawing a line. In the name of transparency, you can’t destroy the institution,” said the bench which also comprised Justices N V Ramana, D Y Chandrachud, Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna.

At the outset, Bhushan, appearing for RTI activist S C Agrawal, said though the apex court should not have been judging its own cause, it is hearing the appeals due to “doctrine of necessity”.

The lawyer termed as “unfortunate” and “disturbing” the reluctance of judiciary in parting information under the Right To Information Act and asked, “Do judges inhabit different universe?”

He said the apex court has always stood for transparency in functioning of other organs of State but it develops cold feet when its own issues require attention.

Referring to RTI provisions, he said they also deal with exemptions and information which cannot be given to applicants, but the public interest should always “outweigh” personal interests if the person concerned is holding or about to hold a public office.

Dealing with “judicial independence”, he said the National Judicial Accountability commission Act was struck down for protecting judiciary against interference from the executive, but this did not mean that judiciary is free from “public scrutiny”.

“This is not the independence from accountability. Independence of judiciary means it has to be independent from the executive and not independent from common public. People are entitled to know as to what public authorities are doing,” he said.

The deliberations of Collegium in appointing and overlooking judges or lawyers should be made public and information can be parted with under RTI on case-to-case basis keeping in mind the larger public interest, he said.

The bench said people, of late, are opting out and do not want to become judges because of the fear of negative publicity.

“Of late, we are experiencing good people, who have opted to become judges, withdrawing their consent. On interaction, the reason appears to be the possibility of the negative observations, whether rightly or wrongly, being brought into the public domain,” it said.

In such a case, besides losing judgeship, reputation, professional life and family life of the person are all adversely affected, it said.

It said it has brought about changes in the functioning of the collegium system and said now collegium members have started interacting with prospective candidates.

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It then referred to a case of a Madras District Judge who was not elevated as the High Court judge and moreover, he was allowed to retire at the age of 58 years.

“All his colleagues who were not even in the zone of consideration for the High Court got the extension, but not only did he not become a High Court judge, he retired at 58”, the CJI said, adding that all the decisions of collegium cannot be “painted” with the same brush.

“Let us not assume any judge has an animus against anybody, let alone the Chief Justice. Otherwise, the institution will dissolve…,” the bench said.

Bhushan then referred to the case of a HC lawyer whose name was recommended and reiterated by the High Court Collegium twice and still the government did not accept and said that people are entitled to know the reasons.

Dealing with the aspect of personal information which can be shared, Bhushan gave an illustration and said suppose a homosexual lawyer’s elevation as a judge is objected to by the government on this ground alone, then this personal information can be disclosed in public interest as people have the right to know.

Justice Chandrachud said certain things may vary from case to case.

He said suppose a judge wanted transfer because of certain kind of illness of his spouse then the nature of disease cannot be disclosed as this is a “personal information”.

The bench said that there cannot be a “blanket” ban on disclosure and it has to be examined on a case-to-case basis.

Justice Gupta said a person himself does not want a disclosure as to his sexuality, then a line would have to be drawn, otherwise it would be “very dangerous”.

The best test would be to ask the person himself if he wanted the reasons for non-elevation or non-appointment to be placed in public domain, the bench said.

Supreme Court notice to Uttrakhand govt on plea seeking restoration of forest area in Pauri

 The Supreme Court has sought a response from the Uttarakhand government on a plea seeking restoration of forest area in Gadoli-Mandakhal in the state’s Pauri district.

A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta issued notices to the Uttarakhand government and others while directing them to file their replies in six weeks.

The top court was hearing a plea filed by Subir Mario Chowfin, who had approached the apex court against the October 8, 2018 order of the tribunal, dismissing his plea noting that he had undertaken multiple proceedings before various forums and multiple cause of actions have been raised in his petition.

Noting that the case is one where plural remedies have been raised on different cause of action, the NGT had junked his plea.

Chowfin has claimed that Gadoli and Mandakhal villages in Pauri is a forest area and alleged that despite the injunction orders, non-forest activity is still being carried on in the forest area or a deemed forest area.

“Direct the respondents to restore the forest areas and grove land areas within a fixed time frame where the bypass and unmetalled roads have been constructed illegally, remove all structures within the forest areas of Gadoli and Mandakhal, including electric poles, lines and transformers and high tension wires, as well as stopping the tapping of water sources,” the plea said.

Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute : SC says aware of outcome of mediation on body politic of country


The Supreme Court Wednesday said it was conscious of the gravity of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute and the outcome of mediation on the body politic of the country.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said the case was not only about property but also about sentiment and faith.

“It is not only about property. It is about mind, heart and healing, if possible,” the bench also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer said.

“We are not concerned about what Mughal ruler Babur had done and what happened after. We can go into what exists in the present moment,” the bench said.

The apex court is considering whether the dispute can be settled through mediation.

The top court had asked the contesting parties to explore the possibility of amicably settling the decades-old dispute through mediation, saying it may help in “healing relations”.

Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.