Ayodhya judgement: key excerpts

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An Indian court has ruled that a disputed holy site in Ayodhya should be split between Hindus and Muslims. Hindus believe the site is the birthplace of one of their most revered deities, Lord Ram, but Muslims say they have worshipped there for generations.

The three judges, two Hindu and one Muslim, were divided on whether a Hindu temple had been demolished to build a mosque on the site and on whether the mosque was legitimate, according to Muslim tenets, but in a majority verdict, they gave control of the main disputed section to Hindus.

Here are key excerpts from the summary of the court's ruling:

"The disputed site is the birth place of Lord Ram.

"The disputed building was constructed by Babur, the year is not certain but it was built against the tenets of Islam. Thus, it cannot have the character of a mosque.

"The disputed structure was constructed on the site of old structure after demolition of the same. The Archaeological Survey of India has proved that the structure was a massive Hindu religious structure.

"It is established that the property in suit is the site of Janm Bhumi [birthplace] of Ram Chandra Ji and Hindus in general had the right to worship Charan [Lord Ram's slippers], Sita Rasoi [Goddess Sita's kitchen], other idols and other object of worship existed upon the property in suit. It is also established that Hindus have been worshipping the place in dispute as Janm Sthan, ie a birthplace as deity and visiting it as a sacred place of pilgrimage as of right since time immemorial.

"After the construction of the disputed structure it is proved the deities were installed inside the disputed structure on 22/23 Dec 1949.

"It is also proved that the outer courtyard was in exclusive possession of Hindus and they were worshipping throughout and in the inner courtyard (in the disputed structure) they were also worshipping.

"It is also established that the disputed structure cannot be treated as a mosque as it came into existence against the tenets of Islam.

"Accordingly, all the three sets of parties - ie Muslims, Hindus and Nirmohi Akhara [a Hindu sect] - are declared joint title holders of the property/premises in dispute... to the extent of one third share each for using and managing the same for worshipping. A preliminary decree to this effect is passed.

"However, it is further declared that the portion below the central dome where at present the idol is kept in makeshift temple will be allotted to Hindus in final decree.

"It is further directed that Nirmohi Akhara will be allotted share including that part which is shown by the words Ram Chabutra [Ram's square] and Sita Rasoi [on a map of the site].

"It is further clarified that even though all the three parties are declared to have one third share each, however if while allotting exact portions some minor adjustment in the share is to be made then the same will be made and the adversely affected party may be compensated by allotting some portion of the adjoining land which has been acquired by the central government.

"The parties are at liberty to file their suggestions for actual partition by metes and bounds within three months.

"Status quo... shall be maintained for a period of three months unless this order is modified or vacated earlier."

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