The Supreme Court on Saturday ordered setting up of a trust that would eventually pave the way for construction of a temple in Ayodhya at the disputed site where a 16th century Babri Masjid was razed by a Hindu mob on December 6, 1992. The five-judge bench also ordered allotment of 5-acre land to Muslims for construction of a mosque. This brings to an end an almost 70-year dispute that has divided Muslims and Hindus.

The Hindus have maintained that the mosque was built atop a temple that Mughal emperor Babar’s men had demolished. They claim the site was the birthplace of Ram, the most worshipped deity of the Hindus.

The landmark judgement was delivered a bench comprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, justices S.A. Bobde, D.Y. Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer.

There were three main parties to the dispute. The Nirmohi Akhara, a religious denomination, had sought directions to construct a Ram temple on the disputed land in Ayodhya and wanted the management rights of the premises to be given to it. Ram Lalla (or the infant Ram), represented by the Hindu Mahasabha, wanted the entire land to be handed over to them, with no part going to Muslim parties or the Nirmohi Akhara.

The Sunni Waqf Board, which looks after religious properties, had demanded that the Babri Masjid be restored to the form that existed before it was brought down by the Hindu groups. Fourteen appeals had been filed before the SC against a 2010 Allahabad high court judgment, which had said that the disputed 2.77 acres should be equally divided among the three litigants.

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