Why in News?
- 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.
Brief Background of the Issue
- The dispute, which has seen much tension and violence over the past decades, debuted in court in 1950 when GopalSimlaVisharad filed the first suit in Faizabad civil court for rights to perform pooja to Ram Lalla.
- The same year saw ParamahansaRamachandra Das also file a suit for continuation of pooja and keeping idols in the structure.
- Nine years later, in 1959, NirmohiAkharafloowed with a third suit for directions to hand over the charge of the disputed site.
- 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 LallaVirajman 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, NirmohiAkhara 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.
Top facts in this big story:
- The Babri Masjid was built in Ayodhya in 1528.
- Hindu groups claim it was built after demolishing a temple.
- In 1853, the first recorded communal clashes over the site took place.
- In 1859, the British administration put a fence around the site marking separate areas of worship for Hindus and Muslims, and it stood that way for nearly 90 years.
- For the first time, the property dispute went to court in 1949 after idols of Lord Ram were placed put inside the mosque.
- In 1984, Hindu groups formed a committee to spearhead the construction of a Ram temple.
- Three years later, a district court ordered the gates of the mosque to be opened after almost five decades and allowed Hindus to worship inside the “disputed structure.”
- A Babri Mosque Action Committee was formed by Muslim groups.
- In 1989, foundations of a temple were laid on land adjacent to the “disputed structure”.
- In 1990, the then BJP president LK Advani took out a cross-country rathyatra to garner support to build a Ram temple at the site.
- VHP volunteers partially damaged the Babri mosque.
- On December 6, 1992, the mosque was demolished by KarSevaks.
- Communal riots across India followed. Ten days after the demolition, the Liberhan Commission was set to probe the incident.
- The Commission submitted its report on June 2009 – naming LK Advani, AtalBihari Vajpayee and other BJP leaders — almost 17 years after it began its inquiry.
- In September 2003, a court ruled that seven Hindu leaders, including some prominent BJP leaders, should stand trial for inciting the destruction of the Babri Mosque.
- But no charges were brought against MrAdvani who was then the Deputy Prime Minister.
- But a year later, an Uttar Pradesh court ruled that the order which exonerated him should be reviewed.
- On February 27 that year, at least 58 people were killed in Godhra, Gujarat, in an attack on a train believed to be carrying Hindu volunteers from Ayodhya.
- Riots followed in the state, in which over 1000 people were reported to have died.
- In April 2002, a 3-judge Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court began hearings on determining who owned the site.
- In September 2010, the Allahabad High Court pronounced the verdict.
- The verdict said the site of Babri mosque is to be divided into three parts, each going to NirmohiAkhara, Ram Lalla and the Sunni Central Waqf Board of Uttar Pradesh.
- Within months, Hindu groups and Muslim groups moved Supreme Court challenging the High Court verdict.
- In 2011, the Supreme Court stayed the Allahabad High Court order.
- Not long before, the top court had said the Allahabad High Court verdict was strange and surprising.
- In its 2017 UP election manifesto, the BJP said it “will explore all possibilities within the purview of the Constitution to construct a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya”.
- The BJP returned to power in UP after 15 years.
What does this mean?
The Supreme Court wants a consensual and negotiated settlement since “Ayodhya is an issue of religion and sentiment.”
Is this the first attempt for negotiated settlement?
No. At least 9 attempts have been made to arrive at a negotiated settlement on this issue. All of them have failed to yield any result.
Why this attempt is different?
This is the first time that offer of negotiation has come from the Supreme Court and the CJI himself has not only offered to work as a mediator but also offered services of the other two judges, if both parties agree.
What will happen now?
The apex court has asked Swamy to consult the parties and inform it about the decision on March 31.
He has to explore the possibilities of negotiation, names of the people who may represent both groups and mediators.
Will it yield result?
Subramanian Swamy is optimistic and said, “I am sure some resolution would come by discussion.”
But JafaryabJilani, Babri Masjid Action Committee convener was not as hopeful as Swamy.
What Babri Masjid Action Committee says?
Babri Masjid Action Committee convenerZafaryabJilani expressed his discontent over the Supreme Court’s latest observation.
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