Supreme Court Recommends Out-of-Court Settlement for Ayodhya Dispute
The CJI stated that he would not hear the case in court if the parties wanted him to help them in mediation.
Describing the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suits, pending since 1949, as a matter of “sentiments and religion”, the Supreme Court Tuesday appealed for an amicable resolution of the dispute, with Chief Justice of India J S Khehar expressing his readiness to even moderate a settlement between the two sides laying claim over the site in Ayodhya.
“Give a bit, take a bit. Make an effort to sort it out. 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 wants me to sit with mediators chosen by both the sides for negotiations, I am ready to take up the task,” said Justice Khehar.
The CJI stated that he would not hear the case in court if the parties wanted him to help them in mediation. .
“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,” the judge responded as BJP MP Subramanian Swamy mentioned the matter for early hearing.
Swamy had submitted that the batch of cases on the tile suits were pending in the apex court for the last six years and although the pleadings were complete, neither a date nor a bench for hearing the dispute had been fixed.
At present, there is a “status quo” by the apex court on the Allahabad High Court order of three-way division of the disputed site. By a 2:1 majority judgment, the Allahabad High Court had in 2010 ordered for the three-way division of “roughly 15,000 square feet site” occupied by the mosque before its demolition on December 6, 1992 — one-third for the Sunni Waqf Board, one-third for the Nirmohi Akhara and one-third to the party for Ram Lalla.
After Swamy’s mention, the CJI, who shared the bench with Justices D Y Chandrachud and Sanjay K Kaul, responded that he would give it a thought as to when this matter could be taken up for hearing by a three-judge bench.
“However, we think these matters are best decided outside court. You sit together and have a discussion. If you want any assistance, you can come to us anytime. These are very sensitive issues. These are issues that need to be resolved. If all of you want to sit across the table and resolve, we can effectuate it,” Justice Khehar told Swamy.
Muslim groups sceptical
Muslim organisations, who are key to any amicable out-of-court settlement, however, voiced scepticism over efficacy of talks to resolve the long-standing dispute.
Muslim organisations, including the Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC), which is a party to the case, were sceptical about the Supreme Court’s suggestion, saying attempts at out-of-court settlement in the past have been unsuccessful.
“We are ready with Chief Justice (of India) mediating … We trust him. We are also ready we if he nominates a team for hearing the matter. But out-of-court settlement is not possible. If SC passes an order in this regard, we will look into it,” said Zafaryab Jilani, convenor of the committee.
Jilani said that going by the past experience, he feels that the matter cannot be settled outside the court and referred to unsuccessful negotiation attempts made during the tenures of former Prime Ministers Chandra Shekhar and P V Narasimha Rao.
The secretary general of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), Maulana Wali Rahmani, said, “We have trust in the Chief Justice and if he is there we are ready for talks.”
“Talks were held earlier also but it can be initiated again. But talks should not be long,” he added.
Maulana Khalid Rashid of the AIMPLB alleged that the attempts in the past to resolve the issue were foiled by political parties.
“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,” Rashid said.
Courtesy: Indian Express