Apex court for negotiation-based resolve of Ayodhya land dispute

CJI suggests cordial meeting, offers even to negotiate
Report by: 
21 Mar 2017

The Supreme Court today suggested an out-of-court settlement of the lingering Ram Janam Bhumi- Babri Masjid land dispute at Ayodhya, observing that issues of "religion and sentiments" can be best resolved through talks.

Chief Justice J S Khehar also offered to mediate even as the bench headed by him suggested that the parties to the dispute adopt a "give a bit and take a bit" approach for a meaningful and sincere negotiation to resolve the issue. The Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court, in 2010, had ruled for a three-way division of the disputed 2.77 acres area at the site in Uttar Pradesh. The three-judge bench, by a majority of 2:1, had said the land be partitioned equally among three parties, Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and the 'Ram Lalla' (nascent Lord Ram). The apex court said that such religious issues can be best resolved through negotiations.  "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," the bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul, said.

The observations were made after BJP leader Subramanian Swamy mentioned the matter seeking urgent hearing, saying that it has been over six years after the High Court decided the civil appeal and that it needed to be heard at the earliest. The BJP Parliamentarian told the court that he had approached the Muslim community members who favoured judicial decision in the contentious matter. "You (Swamy) must make fresh attempts to arrive at a consensual decision. If required, you must choose a mediator to end the dispute. If the parties wants me (CJI) to sit with mediators chosen by both the sides for negotiations, I am ready to take up the task. "Even the services of my brother judges can be availed for the purpose," the CJI said.

The top court said that it may also appoint the principal negotiator if the parties want and asked Swamy to consult the parties and inform it about their decision on amicable resolution of the matter on March 31. The BJP today welcomed the Supreme Court's suggestion and said aggrieved parties should keep in mind its "sensitivity" while discussing the matter. "The Supreme Court has called for an out-of-court settlement between the aggrieved parties. The parties should resolve the issue amicably by talking to each other. "We welcome this step and I believe they should have talks outside the court," BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra told newspersons here. Union minister P P Chaudhary today said the government too favours talks to resolve the Ayodhya dispute. "Government is always ready and encourages mediation.

We encourage negotiations and mediations, even pre-litigation mediation and post-litigation mediation," Chaudhary, who is minister of state for law and justice, told newspersons in the Parliament premises. Underlining that the suggestion of Supreme Court is "worth welcoming", he said if such complex matters are solved through negotiations, it ensures peace and better understanding between the parties in the future. The Congress today came out with a guarded response on Ayodhya issue, saying there should either be a "consensus-based" solution, which will go a long way in ensuring lasting peace and goodwill, or the apex court should adjudicate the case on merit.

It also took a swipe at BJP, saying for 25 years, the issue has been used "for creating social strife for attaining electoral victories". "If all stakeholders on both sides can arrive at a mutually acceptable consensus based solution, it will go a long way in ensuring lasting peace, goodwill, mutual respect and brotherhood. Otherwise, Supreme Court should adjudicate the issue on merits," Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said. The CPM today said the Supreme Court should decide on the matters related to the Ayodhya land dispute. "It (the dispute) went to the court because there was no settlement. The main issue is who the owner of the land is.
There is a dispute and the court has to adjudicate on it," CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said when asked whether his party is in favour of an out-of-court settlement.

AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said the Babri Masjid case is about the title and he is waiting to seeing if "conspiracy charges" would be held against senior BJP leaders in the matter. He was reacting to the Supreme Court suggestion that fresh attempts be made by all parties concerned to find a solution to the Ayodhya temple dispute which is a "sensitive" and "sentimental matter". In a tweet, Owaisi said: "Waiting to hear about whether conspiracy charges will be held against (L K) Advani, (Murli Manohar) Joshi, Uma Bharati (Bharti) in Babri demolition case since....1992".