Ayodhya Verdict: What the ASI and historic records by travellers said
New Delhi, Nov 09: The report of the ASI was relied upon heavily by the Supreme Court while delivering the verdict in the Ayodhya case.
Let us trace what the ASI had said and the position that it indicated:
(i) Archaeological finds in the area of excavation reveal significant
traces of successive civilisations, commencing with the age of the North Black Polished Ware traceable to the second century B.C.;
(ii) The excavation by the ASI has revealed the existence of a pre- existing underlying structure dating back to the twelfth century. The structure has large dimensions, evident from the fact that there were 85 pillar bases comprised in 17 rows each of five pillar bases;
(iii) On a preponderance of probabilities, the archaeological findings on the nature of the underlying structure indicate it to be of Hindu religious origin, dating to twelfth century A.D.;
(iv) The mosque in dispute was constructed upon the foundation of the pre-existing structure. The construction of the mosque has taken place in such a manner as to obviate an independent foundation by utilising the walls of the pre-existing structure; and
(v) The layered excavation at the site of excavation has also revealed the existence of a circular shrine together with a makara pranala indicative of Hindu worship dating back to the eighth to tenth century.
A reasonable inference can be drawn on the basis of the standard of proof which governs civil trials that:
(i) The foundation of the mosque is based on the walls of a large pre-existing structure;
(ii) The pre-existing structure dates back to the twelfth century; and
(iii) The underlying structure which provided the foundations of the mosque together with its architectural features and recoveries are suggestive of a Hindu religious origin comparable to temple excavations in the region and
pertaining to the era.
Conclusion of ASI report:
The conclusion in the ASI report about the remains of an underlying structure of a Hindu religious origin symbolic of temple architecture of the twelfth century A.D. must however be read contextually with the following caveats:
(i) While the ASI report has found the existence of ruins of a pre- existing structure, the report does not provide:
(a) The reason for the destruction of the pre-existing structure; and
(b) Whether the earlier structure was demolished for the purpose of the construction of the mosque.
(ii) Since the ASI report dates the underlying structure to the twelfth century, there is a time gap of about four centuries between the date of the underlying structure and the construction of the mosque. No evidence is available to explain what transpired in the course of the intervening period of nearly four centuries;
(iii) The ASI report does not conclude that the remnants of the pre-
existing structure were used for the purpose of constructing the mosque (apart, that is, from the construction of the mosque on the foundation of the erstwhile structure); and
(iv) The pillars that were used in the construction of the mosque were black Kasauti stone pillars. ASI has found no evidence to show that these Kasauti pillars are relatable to the underlying pillar bases found during the course of excavation in the structure below the mosque.
A finding of title cannot be based in law on the archaeological findings which have been arrived at by ASI. Between the twelfth century to which the underlying structure is dated and the construction of the mosque in the sixteenth century, there is an intervening period of four centuries.
No evidence has been placed on the record in relation to the course of human history between the twelfth and sixteen centuries. No evidence is available in a case of this antiquity on (i) the cause of destruction of the underlying structure; and (ii) whether the pre-existing structure was demolished for the construction of the mosque. Title to the land must be decided on settled legal principles and applying evidentiary standards which govern a civil trial.
Historical records of travellers (chiefly Tieffenthaler and the account of Montgomery Martin in the eighteenth century) indicate:
- (i) The existence of the faith and belief of the Hindus that the disputed site was the birth-place of Lord Ram;
- (ii) Identifiable places of offering worship by the Hindus including Sita Rasoi, Swargdwar and the Bedi (cradle) symbolising the birth of Lord Ram in and around the disputed site;
- (iii) Prevalence of the practice of worship by pilgrims at the disputed site including by parikrama (circumambulation) and the presence of large congregations of devotees on the occasion of religious festivals; and
- (iv) The historical presence of worshippers and the existence of worship at the disputed site even prior to the annexation of Oudh by the British and the construction of a brick-grill wall in 1857.