BJP welcomes SC suggestion of out-of-court settlement of pending “sentimental” Ayodhya dispute; Waqf board prefers judicial verdict

December 6, 1992. Photo credit: Indian Express

The Supreme Court today suggested the mediation route to resolving the long-pending “sensitive” and “sentimental” Ayodhya dispute.

“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. All of you could sit together and hold a cordial meeting,” said the bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar while hearing a petition filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy.

The apex court has set March 31 as the date by which the parties to the dispute must respond whether the idea was acceptable to them.

While the BJP has reportedly welcomed the suggestion, the Sunni Waqf board, a party in the dispute has said it was in favour of a judicial pronouncement from the apex court where the matter has been pending for decades.

“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 said in New Delhi, PTI reported.

“We are ready for a settlement, let a temple and a mosque be built,” Swamy told India Today news channel  while insisting that the disputed site was the birthplace of Lord Rama, a temple must be built there. “A mosque can be built anywhere”, he added. Lawyer Zafaryab Jeelani struck a different note saying, “27 years of talks have been useless.  

Meanwhile VHP leader Pravin Togadia has demanded that the BJP-led NDA government pass a law in Parliament for the building of the Ram Temple at the disputed site while Samajwadi Party leader from UP, Azam Khan has welcomed the apex court’s suggestion.

“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.

Justice Khehar even offered to mediate on the controversial issue if the parties to the dispute were agreeable. All parties should consider appointing mediators to sit across the table and settle the issue. If need be a principal mediator could be appointed by the apex court, he added.

In 2010, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court had given its verdict on the long-standing Ayodhya Ramjanmabhumi-Babri Masjid issue for a three-way division of the disputed area, between the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and the party for ‘Ram Lalla’. The aggrieved parties — Sunni Waqf Board and the All India Hindu Mahasabha — however appealed in the Supreme Court which ordered a stay on the High Court ruling.

Swamy had approached the apex court last year urging a speedy verdict on the long-pending Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute. In blatant violation of the Supreme Court orders and the assurances given to it, the Babri Mosque was demolised on December 6, 1992 by 'kar sevaks' who belonged to various organisations committed to Hindutva ideology.



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