Suggesting an out-of-court rapprochement among rival parties in the 68-year-old Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute, Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar advised peace negotiations instead of a pitched court battle, even offering help to settle the fight amicably.
The dispute, which has seen much tension and violence over the past decades, debuted in court in 1950 when Gopal Simla Visharad filed the first suit in Faizabad civil court for rights to perform pooja to Ram Lalla. The same year saw Paramahansa Ramachandra Das also file a suit for continuation of pooja and keeping idols in the structure. Nine years later, in 1959, Nirmohi Akhara floowed with a third suit for directions to hand over the charge of the disputed site. U.P. Sunni Central Wakf Board filed the fourth suit in 1961 for declaration and possession. The fifth was in 1989 in the name of Ram Lalla Virajman for declaration and possession.
On September 2010, a three-judge Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court held that Hindus have the right to the makeshift temple under the central dome of the Babri Masjid. The High Court ruled in favour of a three-part division of the disputed 2.77-acre area among Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and the Ram Lalla at the disputed site. The Bench had relied on Hindu faith, belief and folklore.
The Sunni Waqf Board and other parties filed their appeals in the Supreme Court against the 2010 judgment. The appeals is pending in the Supreme Court for the past six years.
The pendency of the appeal was brought to the attention of the bench led by Justice Khehar by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on Tuesday. Mr. Swamy, in an urgent mentioning, sought the court to post the appeals for early hearing.
Instead, the bench, also comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Sanjay Kishan Kaul, reacted with a different point of view.
Justice Khehar said parties should understand that these are sensitive issues involving religious sentiments. They should adopt a give and take approach to arrive at a consensus.
“You (Mr. 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 want me (CJI) to sit with mediators chosen by both the sides for negotiations, I am ready,” Justice Khehar said.
Mr. Swamy's plea to "rebuild" the Ram temple at the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site has been tagged to the appeals.
The court asked Mr. Swamy to consult the litigating parties about appointing a negotiator for an out-of-court settlement and report back on March 31, 2017.
A large part of the delay in the Supreme Court owes to the fact that the litigation has records dating back to the 16th Century and written in several languages, including Arabic and Persian. They all have to be translated into English for the court. The High Court judgment itself run into 8,000 pages.
Justices Sudhir Agarwal and Justice D.V. Sharma on the Allahabad High Court bench had concluded in their separate judgments that Lord Ram, son of King Dashrath, was born within the 1,482.5 square yards of the disputed Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid premises over 900,000 years ago during the Treta Yuga.
The third judge, Justice S.U. Khan, said his finding was an “informed guess”.
In May 2011, during a preliminary hearing of the appeals, a Supreme Court bench of Justices (retired) Aftab Alam and R.M. Lodha had described the High Court judgment fixing Lord Ram’s birthplace as a sheer “leap of faith” transgressing into the mythological realm.
Also read:Court awards two-thirds of Ayodhya site to Hindu parties, one-third to Waqf Board | Disputed structure built against Islamic tenets: Justice D.V. Sharma | Judges were required to clear the “innumerable landmines...where angels fear to tread” : Justice S.U. Khan | Highlights of the judgments