Lucknow: In a much-awaited verdict, the Allahabad High Court today ruled that the 2.77 acre disputed land in Ayodhya be divided into three parts among Hindus and Muslims and held that the place where the makeshift temple of Lord Rama currently exists belongs to Hindus.
The majority 2-1 verdict of the Lucknow bench of the court, said to be running into nearly 8,000 pages, comes after nearly 60 years of tortuous litigation over who holds the title to the disputed site. Still, the order may not be the last word and the issue may land up in the Supreme Court.
As an anxious nation awaited the court verdict in the highly-sensitive issue with lakhs of security personnel deployed in Uttar Pradesh and other sensitive places across the country, the order of Justices S U Khan, Sudhir Agarwal and D V Sharma became public just before 4.30 PM amid high drama.
The judges wrote three separate judgements but the majority verdict held that the area covered by the central dome of the three-domed structure where the idol of Lord Rama is presently situated belongs to Hindus.
Justices Khan and Agarwal said the entire disputed land should be divided into three equal parts, each to be given to Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and the parties representing 'Ram Lalla Virajman' (seated Baby Ram).
Perhaps for the first in judicial history, a verdict was delivered in high security with media and lawyers and parties unrelated to the case kept out of the court premises. Press briefings were arranged in the District Collectorate opposite the court premises and summary of the judgements immediately uploaded on the website.
The majority judges declared maintenance of status quo at the disputed land for three months.
One of the parties to the case Sunni Waqf Board said three-way division of land was not acceptable and it would move the Supreme Court against the verdict.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held confabulations with top Cabinet and party colleagues, including Congress President Sonia Gandhi, after which he issued an appeal to all sections of people for maintaining peace and tranquility.
He said the issues involved were complex and the government remained fully committed to upholding the rule of law and maintaining peace and order and harmony.
BJP top brass met at the residence of senior leader L K Advani after the verdict was described as positive by party spokesman Prakash Javadekar.
The Allahabad High Court verdict is a significant step towards building of a grand temple, says L K Advani.