The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its order on appointing mediators to find an amicable solution to the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute on Ayodhya even as Hindu and Muslim parties to the dispute took diametrically opposite stands on the move.
Hindu parties, except the Nirmohi Akhara, opposed mediation while Muslim parties to the dispute supported it. A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said if the parties to the dispute wanted, they could suggest names of mediators.
On behalf of the UP government, the Solicitor General, Mr. Tushar Mehta, opposed mediation, saying it was not advisable in given circumstances. Hindus believe Lord Ram was born in Ayodhya thousands of years ago. During Mughal emperor Babur’s rule, a mosque was constructed at the place in 1528 after destroying the temples existing there. On Wednesday, the Bench said, 'We are not concerned about what Mughal ruler Babur had done and what happened later. We can go into what exists in the present moment.'
Senior advocate CS Vaidyanathan, representing Ram Lalla, said the temple had to be built at the Janmasthan (birth place). 'What can be considered is alternative place for mosque. We are ready to crowd-fund it,' he said, opposing mediation. The top court said it was conscious of the gravity of the dispute and the outcome of mediation on the body politic of India. The Bench said the case was not about property alone but also about people’s sentiments and faith.
As Hindu Mahasabha counsel said 'it is the property of the deity and nobody has the right to mediate… the parties have been waiting for a decision since 1950,' the Bench asked him not to 'pre-judge' the whole issue.
'When the court is ordering mediation, we are not yet assuming somebody will give up something. We think primarily it is not a dispute over the 1,500 yards of land. This is about faith. Do not think that we are not conscious of it or do you think that you have more faith than us?' Justice Bobde asked.
The dispute has been on since 1961 when Sunni Wakf Board took the matter to court. On Sept 30, 2010, Allahabad HC equally divided disputed property among Ram Lalla, Nirmohi Akhada and Sunni Wakf Board.
14 cross-appeals against the HC order have been hanging fire as the formalities, mainly translation of documents, are not complete.