A five-judge constitution bench presided by Chief Justice Gogoi and comprising Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer directed the Central government to hand over the contested site at Ayodhya for the construction of a temple and set up a trust for this purpose.
The court said that an alternative five-acre plot must be allocated for a mosque in Ayodhya.
It said the existence of the structure of the mosque until 6 December 1992 does not admit any contestation.
"The submission that the mosque did not accord with Islamic tenets stands rejected. The evidence indicates that there was no abandonment of the mosque by Muslims," it said.
"The damage to the mosque in 1934, its desecration in 1949 leading to the ouster of the Muslims and the eventual destruction on December 6, 1992 constituted a serious violation of the rule of law," the judgment said.
The court also said that "the Hindus have established a clear case of a possessory title to the outside courtyard by virtue of long, continued and unimpeded worship at the Ramchabutra and other objects of religious significance".
The apex court gave the verdict on a batch of petitions against an order of the Allahabad High Court which trifurcated the site among Ramlalla Virajman, Sunni Central Waqf Board and Nirmohi Akhara.