Chief Justice JS Khehar says he is willing to mediate if the concerned parties want him to do soon VHP decides to relaunch Ram Mandir movement
The SC on Tuesday insisted all interested parties involved in the Ram Mandir issue to settle the matter out of court with Chief Justice of India (CJI) JS Khehar even offering to mediate in the settlement issue should the need arise.
“If the parties want me to sit between mediators chosen by both sides for negotiations, I am ready,” the CJI JS Khehar stated. He added that if it is essential, the court could also choose a principal negotiator to help find a solution.
The court’s observation comes after Sr BJP leader and lawyer Subramanian Swamy had sought an early hearing on the issue, which has been pending in the court for years. In response to Subramanian Swamy’s request, the bench, also comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and Sanjay Kisan Kaul, stated, “We will give it a thought. The matter can be heard either during summer vacation or as and when a 3 judge-bench is available.” However, the apex court observed that the matter was a sensitive one, and best decided outside court.
The SC also advised the BJP leader to raise the matter again on March 31.
A Hindu crowd demolished the Babri Masjid in 1992 claiming that Babri Masjid had been built on the site which is purported to be the birthplace of Lord Ram. Following the demolition, a number of senior BJP leaders, including LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, were named as accused in the case.
In September 2010, a 3-judge Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court had ruled that Lord Ram was born under the makeshift dome of the makeshift temple on the site “as per the faith and belief of Hindus.” Though observing that Hindus have a right to worship their god; by a 2:1 majority, joint ownership of the contested land — measuring 1,500 square yards, was awarded to Nirmohi Akhara, plaintiffs representing Lord Ram and the Sunni Waqf Board.
This judgment was contested and the matter is pending in the SC.
The Ayodhya issue takes on added importance since the swearing in of the new UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath who is a strong supporter of creating a Ram Mandir on the disputed site in Ayodhya.
Reacting to the court’s observation, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister stated, “I welcome what the court has stated. Both sides can sit down to find an agreeable solution. The government is ready to extend any cooperation to enable dialogue.”
Union minister and senior BJP leader Mahesh Sharma resonated Adityanath’s sentiments saying that “the Centre would love to mediate between the 2 sides.”
The BJP has consistently maintained that it is committed to exploring all constitutional options to confirm that the temple is built in Ayodhya. Ahead of the elections in Uttar Pradesh, BJP president Amit Shah had stated that there was no inconsistency between the temple issue and development, his party’s primary poll plank, and they can ‘co-exist’.
In the meantime, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), which has been at the forefront of the Ram Temple movement since it began, has decided to re-launch the movement. The VHP has stated it will begin a movement called ‘Ram Mahotsav’ from March 26 to April 16.
“The Hindu New Year begins on March 28. Two days before the New Year, we will take-off a movement called Ram Mahotsav. During this movement, we will go to villages and teach people on the kind of life that Lord Ram led and how they should also contend with it. We will also take-off Jagran Yatra in each block headquarter, demanding that a Ram Temple be built in Ayodhya as soon as possible. Now there is no reason to delay the construction of the temple,” stated Ishwari Prasad, VHP Zonal President for Western Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
He added, “It will be a nation-wide movement and we will cover a total of around 2 lakh villages all over. The main thrust of the movement will be in Uttar Pradesh since that is where the Ram Janmabhoomi (birthplace) is. Out of the 2 lakh villages, around 70,000 will be in Uttar Pradesh. Soon, you will see the saffron flag atop every house in these villages.”
When asked what hopes he had of the new Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath, Prasad stated, “We are confident that the Uttar Pradesh CM will support us in the movement. The BJP is in power in the Centre and in the state. Ram devotees from over 3 lakh villages have sent stones over the years and 3/4th of these stones are ready. The Ram Temple fund is also ready. Yet, the temple must only be built on the exact spot where Lord Ram was born. The CM must not compromise on that front at all.”
NOT THE FIRST TIME
Numerous attempts have been made over 158 years to settle the Ram Jamnabhoomi-Babri Masjid issue and all have failed.
The latest suggestion came on Tuesday, when the SC asked the warring parties to once again try and settle the matter out of court and resolve the battle.
Among the 9 attempts, 3 were initiated by 3 former Prime Ministers — Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Chandra Shekhar and PV Narasimha Rao.
TIMELINE OF THE CONTROVERSY
Mir Baki built the Babri Masjid on Mughal emperor Babar’s orders. The Hindus had then stand up to that the land on which it was built was the birthplace of Lord Ram.
The British administration built a fence to separate the places of worship of the 2 communities after factions clashed over the possession of the site.
The then PM Chandra Shekhar first tried his hand at negotiations when volunteers of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad partially damaged the mosque. The talks failed
Dec 6: A Hindu mob demolished the mosque leading to widespread agitation. The communal unrests that followed were the worst since the partition in 1947.
June: The then PM AB Vajpayee set up an Ayodhya Cell in his office and appointed Shatrughan Singh to hold talks with Hindu and Muslim leaders.
Sept: Lucknow bench of Allahabad HC ruled that Lord Ram was born under the makeshift dome of the makeshift temple on the site “as per the faith and belief of Hindus.”
Feb 24: Mohammad Hashim Ansari, a litigant, met Mahant Gyan Das of Akhara Parishad to discuss a new proposal for a resolution of the dispute, this attempt to failed.
May 31: Hindu and Muslim leaders met again. Mahant Narendra Giri of Akhara Parishad, met Ansari. Though, before anything could happen, Ansari passed away.
Mar 21, 2017: The SC once again called upon the stakeholders in the Ram Mandir issue to settle the matter out of court. Chief Justice of India JS Khehar offered to mediate for a negotiated settlement of the long-pending issue.