Ayodhya land dispute: SC reserves order on mediation


File Photo Supreme Court

File Photo Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it intends to pass the order soon on whether to refer the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case for mediation and asked all the parties concerned for the names of possible mediators for reaching an amicable settlement.

A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked the parties to give the names of mediators during the course of the day.

The bench, also comprising of Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer reserved the order on whether or not to refer the Ayodhya land dispute for mediation.

Hindu bodies except Nirmohi Akhara opposed the suggestion of the court to refer the matter for mediation, while Muslim bodies supported the suggestion.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government, said the court should refer the matter for mediation only when there exists an element of settlement.

He said considering the nature of the dispute it will not be advisable to take this path of mediation.

Senior advocate C S Vaidyanathan, appearing for Ram Lalla Virajman, told the bench that mediation has not yielded any result in the past despite repeated attempts.

There is no dispute that Lord Ram was born in Ayodhya but the dispute is what is the Ram Janmasthan (place of birth), he said, adding that the issue of Janmasthan cannot be mediated.

Muslim bodies on other hand supported the court suggestion of mediation and said that it should be done in-camera and nobody should be allowed to disclose the proceedings till the final report is given.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy told the apex court that the disputed land at Ayodhya belonged to the government.

“P V Narsimha Rao government had in 1994 made commitment to the apex court that if ever found that there was a temple, the land will be given for temple construction,” said Swamy.

During the hearing, the top court said it was conscious of the gravity of the land dispute and the outcome of mediation on the body politic of the country.

It said that the case was not only about the property but also about sentiment and faith.

“It is not only about property. It is about mind, heart and healing, if possible,” the bench said.

“We are not concerned about what Mughal ruler Babur had done and what happened after. We can go into what exists in the present moment,” it said.

The top court had earlier asked the contesting parties to explore the possibility of amicably settling the decades-old dispute through mediation, saying it may help in “healing relations”.

Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties, the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.