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A Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi will deliver the judgement today in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case. The Bench heard cross-appeals filed by both sides over the last 40 days. Justice Gogoi is set to retire on November 17.
On October 17, the News Broadcasting Standards Authority issued an advisory for journalists and media houses reporting on the Ayodhya hearings. The main purpose of the advisory is to ensure the media covers the dispute in a manner that upholds the secular nature of the country and avoids inciting any communal clashes. Yet, the past month has seen television news channels, in particular, gunning for a riot: shows that go against media ethics, thrive on inciting communal passions, target minorities, and indulge in hate speech.
With the verdict only hours away, it’s an important day for news professionals. We’ll be watching how the media reports on proceedings with quick updates.
Prime Minister Modi addressed the nation, lauding the Supreme Court for its decision on Ayodhya. He said it was November 9 when the Berlin Wall fell and so, today is also a historic day that teaches everyone unity. The decision will inspire the new generation to begin the process of building a new India, he said. Every citizen of India is now even more responsible for the building of this nation, the PM added.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has issued an advisory to channels and cable TV operators to “strictly adhere to the Programme Code during discussion, debates and reporting”, ANI reports.
The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) urged that there should be “no provocative acts using the judgment, which will disrupt communal harmony”. In a statement, the party said: “The Court judgment has itself stated that the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992 was a violation of law. This was a criminal act and an assault on the secular principle. The cases pertaining to the demolition should be expedited and the guilty punished.”
Asaduddin Owaisi said he’s “not satisfied” with the verdict. He said, “Supreme Court is indeed supreme but not infallible. We have full faith in the constitution, we were fighting for our right, we don’t need 5 acre land as donation. We should reject this 5 acre land offer, don’t patronize us.”
The RSS issued a statement on the Ayodhya verdict, saying it has “done justice to public sentiments and faith”.
The Congress Working Committee issued a statement saying it respects the Supreme Court verdict on Ayodhya. The statement said, “It is the responsibility of each one of us to reaffirm our tradition of mutual respect and unity among all that has defined our society through the ages.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the Ayodhya judgement “reaffirms the independence, transparency and farsightedness of our judiciary”. He tweeted: “The halls of justice have amicably concluded a matter going on for decades. Every side, every point of view was given adequate time and opportunity to express differing points of view. This verdict will further increase people’s faith in judicial processes.”
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat welcomed the Supreme Court verdict. He said, “We welcome this decision of Supreme Court. This case was going on for decades and it has reached the right conclusion. This should not be seen as a win or loss.We also welcome everyone’s efforts to maintain peace and harmony in society.”
Zee News and India TV’s ticker declares ‘Mandir Wahin Banega’. Other channels have images of the deity Ram displayed prominently. There is very little or almost no discussion on Hindi news channels on what the Supreme Court had to say on the illegality of the demolition of the Babri Masjid.
The Ayodhya judgement is 1,045 pages long. Read it here: Judgement
Congress leader Randeep Surjewala says the Ayodhya judgement “not only opened the doors for the temple’s construction but also closed the doors for BJP and others to politicise the issue”.
There’s silence at the BJP headquarters in Delhi where a meeting is reportedly taking place to discuss how to react to the verdict. The media wait patiently.
Zee News displays elaborate graphics of the future Ram Mandir while declaring the judgement a win for secular India.
On Sudarshan News, Suresh Chavhanke remembers Ashok Singhal, former Vishva Hindu Parishad leader who lead the Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi movement.
Varun Kumar Sinha, the lawyer for the Hindu Mahasabha, tells ANI: “It is a historic judgement. With this judgement, the Supreme Court has given the message of unity in diversity.”
Zafaryab Jilani, lawyer for the Sunni Waqf Board, tells ANI: “We respect the judgement but we are not satisfied, we will decide further course of action.”
“Mandir wahin banega,” says Zee News anchor to the background music of Ram bhajans.
“Mandir banayi jaegi, this is breaking news,” says Arnab Goswami on Republic TV to the sound of conch shells.
Supreme Court: “A suitable plot of five acres must be granted to Sunni Waqf Board to set up a Mosque. The disputed land at Ayodhya must be given to a Board of Trustees for construction of Ram Mandir. Centre to formulate scheme within three months”.
The Supreme Court says alternate land to be allotted to Muslims to construct mosque, Bar and Bench reports.
The Supreme Court says, “The disputed site is one composite plot. The inner courtyard is a contested site. Evidence indicates no abandonment of mosque by Muslims…On balance of probabilities, clear evidence that Hindus worshipped in Outer Courtyard. As regards Inner Courtyard, no evidence by Muslims to show exclusive possession by them prior to 1857.”
Meanwhile, DD News is reporting live from Kartarpur. The ticker has updates of the #AyodhyaVerdict but the live coverage is focusing on the PM’s visit to the Dera Baba Nanak.
Supreme Court says, “Once faith is established, courts should defer to it…Title should be decided based on evidence in a court of law. Title cannot be established based on faith and belief.”
The SC has further ruled that the Ram Janmabhoomi, the birthplace of Lord Rama, is not a juristic entity.
Bar and Bench reports that Supreme Court says, “There is adequate material in ASI report to conclude the following: Babri Masjid not constructed on vacant land. There was a structure underlying the disputed structure. The underlying structure was not an Islamic structure.”
CJI Gogoi says the Bench has rejected the plea filed by the Shia Wakf Board.
LiveLaw reports that it’s a “unanimous verdict”.
A man was arrested on Friday evening in Maharashtra’s Dhule district for an “inflammatory” Facebook post on the Ayodhya case. Sanjay Sharma, 56, allegedly posted in Marathi that he will “celebrate Diwali” after getting “justice for Shri Ram Janmabhoomi” and that it would “remove a dark spot of history”. PTI reports that Sharma was arrested under Sections 153(1)(B) and 188 of the Indian Penal Code.
CJI Ranjan Gogoi asks for silence in the courtroom.
Aaj Tak says everything is “very colourful” outside the court, like a “festival”.
NDTV‘s reporter from Ayodhya says the situation is calm and there is no curfew-like situation. He says it has been easy to report from the city and the administration has handled the situation well.
Noting that Yogi Adityanath is reviewing security measures in Lucknow, Rajdeep Sardesai says, “The cynic in me would question: where was Yogi Adityanath in 1992? Why was he not then an ambassador of peace, as he is today? Everyone wants to be an ambassador of peace now…27 years too late, but better late than never.”
On Times Now, Rahul Shivshankar and Navika Kumar wonder whether the cars the judges are travelling in are following the odd-even scheme.
Republic TV reporter paces up and down the lawns in the Supreme Court, saying she’s keeping watch on Gate Number 1. Meanwhile, the anchors excitedly shout in the studio: “CJI is moving out of his residence! Yeh gadi unko seedha Supreme Court le jayegi!”
Home Minister Amit Shah has called a “high level security meeting” at his residence, ANI reports. National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval and other senior officials will attend.
Prasar Bharti tweeted The Guardian‘s story on the Ayodhya verdict and said, “The Guardian must desist from provoking communal hatred in India through its slanted reportage that conflates Indian National Interest with Religion.”
Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has just arrived at the Supreme Court.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray says the BJP government can’t take “credit” for the Ayodhya verdict, NDTV reports. “We had requested the government to make a law on construction of Ram Temple (in Ayodhya) but the government did not do that. Now, when the SC is going to pronounce the verdict, the government can’t take credit for it (even if the verdict favours the pro-temple side).”
On Times Now, Rahul Shivshankar says, “I flinch now when I hear people say ‘Ram Ram’. I used to say it as a child, it used to convey a particular ethos…but now I think I shouldn’t say it because it sounds politically incorrect.”
Rajdeep Sardesai says the difference between 1992 and 2019 is the 24/7 media coverage. “The TV presence ensures that the police and everyone is on guard.” Rahul Kanwal says, “News is a disinfectant, live news creates transparency, but on platforms like Whatsapp, fake news is a very big challenge.”
Meanwhile, News18‘s reporter in Ayodhya speaks to masons. The reporter notes that they have begun working harder and would work for free for the construction of a Ram temple.
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra invokes Mahatma Gandhi, urges people to maintain social harmony.
On News18, a man dressed in saffron speaks of communal harmony and the importance of religious harmony. The anchor says today is a test of our patriotism and that India needs to stay united.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat will address a press conference at 1 pm after the verdict is delivered.
The Uttar Pradesh DGP, OP Singh, tells ANI that the police held “10,000 meetings across the state with religious leaders and citizens”, and appeals for people in Uttar Pradesh to refrain from spreading rumours on social media.
Zee News has a running top ticker with an image of Ram on the right side and what seems like a Ram Temple on the left.
The channel also has a constant hum of bhajans playing in the background as reporters speak. One of its reporters is delivering a piece to camera in front of an image of Ram. Back in the studio, the anchor says that judgement pertains to a title suit not a temple, the Ram Bhajans continue. Last night, Zee News editor Sudhir Chaudhary held a prime-time show on the ‘Scientific Proof of Shri Ram’s birth’.
Times Now is keeping its coverage restrained, noting the verdict will give very little “wiggle room”. It sticks to summarising arguments by both sides.
All educational institutions in Uttar Pradesh have been closed until November 11. 20,000 troops have been stationed in Ayodhya.