SC suggests out-of-court solution to Ayodhya row

SC suggests out-of-court solution to Ayodhya row

The Supreme Court on Tuesday suggested an out-of-court settlement of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute with the Chief Justice of India himself offering to mediate between the two sides laying claim to the historic site in Ayodhya.

“These are issues best decided jointly, these are issues of sentiments and religion. The court should come in the picture only if you cannot settle it. If the parties want me to sit with mediators chosen by both the sides for negotiations, I am ready to take up the task,” Justice J S  Khehar said.

“You want me, I am ready to do it. You don't want me, I won't. If you want my brother judges, you can take them but first try to sit with each other and resolve it. After all these are issues of sentiments. And if you want some principal mediator, we can arrange that,” he said as BJP MP Subramanian Swamy mentioned the matter before the court for an early hearing.

Presiding over a bench which also comprised Justices D Y Chandrachud and Sanjay Kishan Kaul, the CJI told Swamy to consider resolving the “sensitive and sentimental” dispute outside the court by making all efforts.

The court’s observation was welcomed by the RSS but Muslims organisations, including Babri Masjid Action Committee, said earlier attempts for an out-of-court settlement have been unsuccessful.

In his plea, Swamy submitted that a batch of cases on the title suit was pending in the apex court for the last six years. Though the pleadings were complete, no specific date or the bench for hearing the dispute had been fixed, he added. To the court's suggestion, he said that he had earlier approached the Muslim community members, who were for judicial intervention to solve the matter. The court then asked Swamy to consult the parties and inform it about their decision on March 31.

The apex court had earlier ordered status quo on the Allahabad High Court’s order for a three-way division of the disputed site. By a 2:1 majority judgment, the Allahabad High Court had on September 20, 2010 ordered a three-way division of the “roughly 15,000 square feet site” occupied by the mosque before its demolition on December 6, 1992.

It had directed the allocation of one-third of it to the Sunni Waqf Board, one-third to the Nirmohi Akhara and one-third to the party for Ram Lalla. In his plea, Swamy had claimed that a temple once constructed cannot be touched, while under the practice prevalent in Islamic countries, a mosque could be shifted to any other place for public purposes like constructing a road.

Towards a solution

SC tells Subramanian Swamy to consult all sides, report back on March 31
Babri Masjid Action Committee says similar attempts have failed in the past
In 2011, SC had stayed Allahabad HC order on division of the disputed site

“You (Swamy) must make fresh attempts to arrive at a consensual decision. If required, you must choose a mediator to end the dispute....” 
Justice J S Khehar, Chief Justice of India

“We are ready with Chief Justice mediating...We trust him. We are also ready if he nominates a team...out of court settlement is not possible. If SC passes an order in this regard, we will look into it”
Zafaryab Jilani, convenor, Babri Masjid Action Committee

“The Supreme Court’s observation is a welcome step and I hope in the light of the apex court’s advise, all concerned parties will reach consensus and will find a solution,”
L K Advani, senior leader, BJP 

“We were always ready. Mandir and Masjid should be built, but Masjid should be built on other side of Sarayu river. The Ram Janambhoomi should be entirely for Ram Mandir,”
Subramanian Swamy, BJP leader 

“Negotiation have been made in the past a number of times between the two parties. But each time political parties foiled our attempts...(So), we are of the view that let the Supreme Court decide once and for all,”
Maulana Wali Rahmani, secretary general, All India Muslim Personal Law Board 

“These are issues of religion and sentiments. These are issues where all the parties can sit together and arrive at a consensual decision to end the dispute. These issues are best decided jointly. All of you may sit together and hold a cordial meeting,”
Supreme Court

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