NEW DELHI: The Indian Supreme Court (SC) is reading out a unanimous verdict on the decades-old Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid title dispute in the northern holy city of Ayodhya.
A five-member apex court bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi,is announcing the long-pending judgment in the Ayodhya title suit case.
The apex court bench comprises CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justice SA Bobde, Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice Abdul Nazeer.
Ahead of the verdict, elaborate security arrangements have been made across the country, especially in the temple town to avoid any conflict.
Schools and colleges in the area have been closed and all roads leading to the site have been blocked by police.
The court case centres on the ownership of the land and has been dragging on in the Supreme Court for years.
Hindus believe that the site of the mosque is the birthplace of one of their most revered deities, Lord Ram, and they want to build a temple there. Muslims, however, say they have worshipped there for generations.
Background of Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid title dispute
At the centre of the row is the 16th Century mosque that was demolished by Hindu mobs in 1992, sparking riots that killed nearly 2,000 people.
Many Hindus believe that the Babri Masjid was constructed on the ruins of a Hindu temple that was demolished by Muslim invaders.
Muslims say they offered prayers at the mosque until December 1949 when some Hindus placed an idol of Ram in the mosque and began to worship the idols.
Over the decades since, the two religious groups have gone to court many times over who should control the site.
Since then, there have been calls to build a temple on the spot where the mosque once stood.
The long and complicated property dispute has been dragging on in various courts for more than a century.
This particular case is being fought between three main parties – two Hindu groups and the Muslim Waqf Board, which is responsible for the maintenance of Islamic properties in India.
The Hindu litigants are the Hindu Mahasabha, a right-wing political party, and the Nirmohi Akhara, which is a sect of Hindu monks.
They filed a title dispute in the Allahabad High Court in 2002, a decade after the mosque was demolished.
A verdict, in that case, was pronounced in September 2010 – it determined that the 2.77 acres of the disputed land would be divided equally into three parts.
The court ruled that the site should be split, with the Muslim community getting control of a third, Hindus another third and the Nirmohi Akhara sect the remainder. Control of the main disputed section, where the mosque once stood, was given to Hindus.
The Supreme Court suspended this ruling in 2011 after both Hindu and Muslim groups appealed against it.