CJI Ranjit Gogoi announced today that the decades-old controversial Babri Masjid demolition case, which was being heard for on a day to day basis for 40 days, will finally be laid to rest as all hearings and proceedings in the case will be heard for the final time by 5 pm on Wednesday.
A little background:
The Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute is a decades-old tussle between Hindus and Muslims with the former claiming that is the birthplace of Lord Rama where a mosque was built in 1528–29 CE (935 AH) by Mir Baqi.
Since the mosque was built on orders of the Mughal Emperor Babur, it was named Babri Masjid.
The Babri mosque was demolished by Hindu Karsevaks on December 6, 1992, in Ayodhya. The country witnessed massive riots following the riots that killed over 2,000 people.
After 25 odd years, the final verdict is to be announced on October 18. Here's a brief timeline of the events.
December 1949: An idol of Lord Ram is placed inside the Babri Masjid, after which police lodges an FIR and the city magistrate seizes and locks the property.
January 1950: Gopal Singh Visharad files a civil suit in the Faizabad court demanding to unlock the Babri Masjid premises and start regular prayers.
Ramchandra Das Paramahans, the Mahant of Digambar Akhara and Nirmohi Akhara later approach the court with the same demand.
February 1961: Uttar Pradesh’s Sunni Central Waqf Board challenges the three suits filed by the Hindus, declaring Babri Masjid as its property. Hashim Ansari and five others join the case through separate pleas.
February 1986: Faizabad District Judge Hari Shankar Pandey orders unlocking of the Babri Mosque in favor of Hindu parties, and allows worship.
The Babri Masjid Action Committee is formed in the same year.
1989: All cases related to the Babri Masjid-Ramjanma-Bhoomi title suit are transferred to the high court. Triloki Nath Pandey also becomes a party by claiming to be Ram Lalla’s ‘best friend’.
December 6, 1992: Babri Mosque is demolished.
December 12, 1992: The Narsimha Rao government sets up the Liberhan Commission to investigate the case.
1993: The Liberhan Commission begins its probe. CBI takes over and files a charge sheet against BJP leader LK Advani, and 19 others, who led the rath yatra to Ayodhya, and is accused of goading Kar sevaks into pulling down the structure.
Various writ petitions, including one by Ismail Faruqui, filed at Allahabad High Court challenging various aspects of the Act.
October 24, 1994: Supreme Court says in the historic Ismail Faruqui case that a mosque was not integral to Islam.
May 2001: The special court drops criminal conspiracy charges against L K Advani and MM Joshi.
February 2002: Tension in Ayodhya as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) is adamant on Shila Pujan to construct the Ram temple.
April 2002: A three-judge bench of the court begins the Ayodhya title suit hearing.
2003: In a survey requested by the High Court, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) finds evidence of a temple under the mosque. Muslim groups dispute the findings.
September 2003: The CBI court rules that seven Sangh Parivar leaders should stand trial for inciting the Babri Masjid demolition. LK Advani, by now the deputy Prime Minister, however, is spared.
June 2009: The Liberhan Commission submits its report, holding 68 people guilty of the demolition of the 16th century Babri Masjid.
September 30, 2010: The three-judge bench in its historic judgment divides the disputed land in three parts—two parts to the Hindu side and one to the Muslim side
2011: All three sides — Nirmohi Akhara, Ram Lalla Virajman, and Sunni Waqf Board — appeal against the verdict in the Supreme Court.
May 2011: The Supreme Court stays the High Court verdict and orders status quo at the disputed site
February 2016: BJP leader Subramanian Swamy appeals to the Supreme Court for an urgent hearing to decide the title suit.
March 21, 2017: Hearing Swamy’s petition, the three-judge bench says the parties involved should try and reach an amicable settlement out of court. The Supreme Court is ready to mediate, says the Chief Justice of India.
April 19, 2017: Supreme Court asks the CBI court to revive conspiracy charges against the accused named in FIR 198/92 and shifts their case from the Rae Bareli court to Lucknow, clubbing it with the case against accused Karsevaks, who was booked for the actual demolition of Babri Masjid
Supreme Court asks the CBI court to commence a day-to-day hearing in a trial within a month of the order and wind up the case by 2019, delivering the verdict.
May 20, 2017: Special CBI court in Lucknow summons six accused including RV Vedanti, BL Sharma, Champat Rai Bansal, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, Mahant Dharam Das, and Dr. Satish Pradhan.
All the accused except Pradhan appear in court and are granted bail, with the next date of hearing set for May 25, 2017.
May 24, 2017: Satish Pradhan appears in the CBI court, Lucknow and gets bail.
May 25, 2017: Six accused, including Vedanti and five others, fail to appear in court for the framing of charges, and are asked by the CBI court to appear on May 30 beyond which no exemption will be allowed.
May 26: The Special CBI court summons six BJP leaders including LK Advani, MM Joshi, Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar, Sadhvi Ritambhara, and Vishnu Hari Dalmia, accused in the case (FIR 198/92) to appear before it for framing of charges.
All six fail to appear and are directed to be present on May 30, 2017.
May 30, 2017: All 12 accused named in the FIR no 198/92 for inciting the mob and conspiring to demolish the Babri Mosque appear in the Special CBI court in Lucknow Court. Additional charges of conspiracy are framed under Section 120 B of IPC against them.
August 8, 2017: The Uttar Pradesh Shia Waqf Board proposes in an affidavit to the Supreme Court that a new mosque being built away from the disputed site in Ayodhya.
The Shia Waqf Board claimed, in media reports, that the 16th century Babri Masjid was a Shia waqf (endowment) and that the Sunni Waqf Board, which has been a party to the 70-year-old Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute, were "mere interlopers" led by “hardliners, fanatics and non-believers” who do not want an amicable settlement with the Hindu sects involved,.
August 11, 2017: Supreme Court to start the final hearing on December 5. The court directs the Uttar Pradesh government to translate the case documents running into more than 9,000 pages (523 documentary exhibits) within 12 weeks. The documents include scripts and records written in various languages ranging from Pali, Arabic, Persian, Gurumukhi to Urdu.
November 20, 2017: Uttar Pradesh Shia Central Waqf Board files an application in the Supreme Court seeking settlement of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute.
December 5, 2017: The Supreme Court commences hearing in the Ayodhya dispute. After hearing arguments from the defendants and Additional Solicitor General (ASG) representing the State of Uttar Pradesh, the apex court fixes the matter for further hearing on February 8, 2018.
February 8, 2018: Supreme Court starts hearing the civil appeals.
March 14, 2018: Supreme Court rejects all interim pleas, including Swamy’s, seeking to intervene as parties in the case.
April 6, 2018: Rajeev Dhavan files plea in SC to refer the issue of reconsideration of the observations in its 1994 judgment to a larger bench.
July 6, 2018: Uttar Pradesh government tells SC some Muslim groups were trying to delay the hearing by seeking reconsideration of an observation in the 1994 verdict.
July 20, 2018: Supreme Court reserves its verdict.
September 27, 2018: Supreme Court declines to refer the case to a five-judge Constitution bench. Case to be heard by a newly constituted three-judge bench on October 29.
October 2018: The Supreme Court decides that the land dispute case will only be listed before an “appropriate Bench” in January 2019.
In what is seen as a setback to the BJP leaders pressing for speedy disposal of the title suit, a Bench consisting Chief Justice Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph says, “the appropriate Bench will fix the schedule with regard to the hearing of appeals in the case”.
January 4, 2019: The Supreme Court defers hearing a bunch of petitions in the Ayodhya title dispute case till January 10.
“Further orders will be passed by an appropriate bench on January 10 for fixing the date of hearing the matter,” the Bench says.
January 8, 2019: The Supreme Court sets up a five-judge Constitution Bench to hear the land dispute case headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justices SA Bobde, NV Ramana, UU Lalit, and DY Chandrachud.
January 10: Justice U U Lalit recuses himself prompting Supreme Court to reschedule the hearing for January 29 before a new bench.
January 25, 2019: Supreme Court reconstitutes 5-member Constitution Bench to hear the case. The new bench comprises Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer.
January 27, 2019: Supreme Court cancels the January 29 hearing due to the non-availability of Justice SA Bobde.
January 29, 2019: Centre moves Supreme Court seeking permission to return the 67-acre acquired land around the disputed site to original owners.
February 20, 2019: Supreme Court decides to hear the case on February 26.
February 26, 2019: Supreme Court favors mediation, fixes March 5 for order on whether to refer the matter to a court-appointed mediator.
March 6, 2019: Supreme Court reserves order on whether the land dispute can be settled through mediation.
March 8, 2019: Supreme Court refers to the dispute for mediation by a panel headed by former Supreme Court judge F M I Kallifulla.
May 10, 2019: The mediation team submits the final report to Supreme Court.
August 5, 2019: Supreme Court grants mediators some more time
August 6, 2019: Supreme Court begins the day to day hearing.
October 2019: Supreme Court says it wants to wind up the hearing by October 18
October 14, 2019: Ahead of the Babri Masjid verdict, Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Aditynath imposes section 144 in Ayodhya till December 10.
October 15, 2019: CJI says will try and conclude hearing by October 16.
October 16, 2019: "Enough is enough", says CJI as Ayodhya hearings will conclude by 5 pm today.(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)