Time to reconcile

It is tempting to view the judgment given by the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court in the Ayodhya title suit case as a victory for the Hindus. The court has decided that the place under the central dome of the demolished structure was the birth place of Ram, the claim to the title of the disputed land made by the Sunni Wakf Board is not valid as their plea was time-barred and that the land should be divided in three parts and given to the Nirmohi Akhara, which was a party to the case, the Wakf Board and to a body representing Ram Lala. There are differences in detail between the orders delivered by the three judges. But there is a common thread and it would seem that  the main position of the Hindu groups that claimed the disputed site has been accepted.

In a case which has aroused passions of communities, a judicial decision which has been eluding for decades is welcome, though there are disputable elements in it. It is often difficult for both parties in a case to claim victory and many times the judgement itself becomes contentious. The Allahabad high court’s judgement has not been accepted by the Sunni Wakf Board and it is planning to go in appeal to the supreme court. Even the other side will. There cannot therefore be any finality on the issues involved while the judicial process is likely to continue. But the judgement should be taken as offering possibilities for a reconciliation between the two sides. The judgment itself recommends it. Since it makes it clear that three parties including the Wakf Board are joint title holders of the disputed property, the possibility of reconstruction of the demolished mosque can be real. While the parties to the dispute should be open to this, the judicial process can simultaneously continue. If there is no negotiated settlement, the decision of the supreme court should be final and be accepted by the parties.

That is why there should not be any triumphalism on the matter. Fortunately there has not been any defiant and unwholesome response to the judgment. That may be taken as a measure of the maturity and respect for the law of the parties to the case and the people. Though very extensive security arrangements were made all over the country there has not been any untoward incident. That shows the people have become wiser and are not ready to take to the streets on an issue that should be settled in the minds or the judicial fora.

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