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.
The CJI added that the “first attempt should be to sit with each other” and make attempts to resolve it outside court. “You must fresh attempts to arrive at a consensual decision. If required, you must choose a moderator to end the dispute. If the parties wants me to sit with mediators chosen by both the sides for negotiations, I am ready to take up the task,” he said.
Swamy, on his part, said that he had approached the Muslim community members who had replied that judicial intervention was required to solve the matter. The bench then asked Swamy to consult the parties and inform it about the decision on March 31.
Last year, the apex court had allowed Swamy to intervene in the matters pending since 2010 relating to the Ayodhya title dispute with his plea seeking construction of Ram temple at the site of the demolished disputed structure.
In his petition, Swamy claimed that under the practices prevalent in Islamic countries, a mosque could be shifted to any other place for public purposes, such as constructing roads, whereas a temple once constructed cannot be touched.
He has also sought directions to expedite the disposal of several petitions challenging the Allahabad High Court verdict of three-way division of the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya on September 30, 2010.