Legal Title to Sacred Places

Case: Visharad v. Ahmad, O.O.S., No. 1 of 1989, All. H.C., 4 (2010) (Khan, J.)

Case Synopsis: For an extended synopsis of the case see Aparna Chandra’s summary. On September 2010, the Allahabad High Court in India delivered its decision on the legal title and ownership over land that had been disputed for 125 years. On this land a sixteenth century mosque had been destroyed by Hindu activists in 1992. In the Allahbad High Court, the majority held that the property in question be split three ways, with one portion going to the Muslims and two portions going to two of the Hindu parties. The decision was based on the central claim put forward by the Hindu parties that images (and the birthplace) were juridical entities who could be given legal title to the property and also that the disputed site was a place of worship for Hindus and a core ingredient of the Hindu faith. This case module originated in the work of Ratna Kapur.

Photo of advertisement for building the Ram Janambhoomi mandir in Jodhpur, Rajasthan (1990), courtesy Peter Gottschalk


Brief Summary

Brief Summary for Visharad v. Ahmad

Issues of Briefing

Issues of Briefing for Visharad v. Ahmad

Judgment of Justice Khan

Judgment of Justice Khan Visharad v. Ahmad

Judgment of Justice Agarwal

Judgment of Justice Agarwal for Visharad v. Ahmad


Hindu Majoritarianism

Ratna Kapur, “The ‘Ayodhya’ Case: Hindu Majoritarianism
and the Right to Religious Liberty,” Maryland Journal of International Law 29, no. 1 (2014): 305-65.


Introduction to Ayodhya

Christophe Jaffrelot, “Ayodhya Issue,” in The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity, and Nationalism (John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2015).

Hindu Law and False Religion

Jakob De Roover, “Secular Law and the Realm of False Religion,” in After Secular Law, edited by Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Robert A. Yelle, and Mateo Taussig-Rubbo (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2011): 44-61.