THE then President of Bharat, Dr Shanker Dayal Sharma wrote to the Supreme Court on January 7, 1993: “…Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred upon me by clause (1) of Article 143 of the Constitution of India, I, Shanker Dayal Sharma, President of India, hereby refer the following question to the Supreme Court of India for consideration and opinion thereon, namely: Whether a Hindu temple or any Hindu religious structure existed prior to the construction of the Ram Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid (including the premises of the inner and outer courtyards of such structure) in the area on which the structure stood?”
At the instance of the Supreme Court, it was for the Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court to find out the direct answer to the presidential special reference, and in August 2002, the said Bench ordered Ground Penetrating Radar Survey (GPRS) of the site which was conducted by Tojo Vikas International under the expert supervision of a Canadian scientist. The GPR Survey suggested evidence of anomalies which could be structure, pillars, foundation walls, slab flooring, etc., which could be confirmed by more direct scientific archaeological excavation and scrutiny.
As suggested by the GPR Survey, the High Court in order to get sufficient archaeological evidence on the issue involved whether there was any temple/structure which was demolished and mosque was constructed on the disputed site, directed on March 5, 2003, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI under the Ministry of Culture, Government of India) to appropriately excavate the disputed site. The excavation was conducted in the presence of two observers appointed by the Court (two Additional District Judges of Faizabad). The parties concerned, their counsels, their experts/representatives were permitted to remain present during excavation. To maintain impartiality, it was also ordered that 40 per cent of the labour would be Muslims. Minute to minute videography and still photography of excavation were done by the ASI. The excavation was eye-opening. The two-volume ASI report summarised: “…Now viewing in totality and taking into account the archaeological evidence of a massive structure just below the disputed structure and evidence of continuity in structural phases from the tenth century onwards up to the construction of the disputed structure along with the yield of stone and decorated bricks as well as mutilated sculpture of divine couple and carved architectural members including foliage patterns, amalaka, kapolapali doorjamb with semi-circular pilaster, broken octagonal shaft of black schist pillar, lotus motif, circular shrine having pranala (waterchute) in the north, fifty pillar bases association of the huge structure, are indicative of remains which are distinctive features found associated with the temples of north India.” The GPRS report and the ASI report are now part and parcel of the High Court records. This scientific scrutiny made it clear that the Babri structure was not built on a virgin land as was claimed by Muslims in their civil suit filed in December 1961 before the Civil Judge of Faizabad, but it was superimposed on the foundations of an earlier Hindu temple that was demolished by the invaders.