NEW DELHI: Despite nine failed attempts to find an out-of-court settlement to the contentious and ‘sentimental’ issue, the Supreme Court on Tuesday advised all parties involved in the Ayodhya dispute to resolve the issue amicably. The apex court’s suggestion comes days after the BJP won the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections with a historic mandate. The construction of Ram Temple at the disputed site featured prominently in the ruling party’s Sankalp Patra (poll manifesto), and the appointment of firebrand Hindutva poster boy Yogi Adityanath as the Chief Minister is being viewed as a favourable factor in fulfilling this promise.
“These are issues of religion and sentiments. These are issues where all the parties can sit together and arrive at a consensual decision to end the dispute. All of you may sit together and hold a cordial meeting,” said a bench headed by Chief Justice of India JS Khehar. The observations have come after BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy sought an urgent hearing on the issue. Six years have passed since the Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court ordered a three-way division of the disputed area (2.77 acres) in 2010.
“You must make fresh attempts to arrive at a consensual decision. If required, you must choose a moderator to end the dispute. If the parties want me to sit with mediators chosen by both the sides for negotiations, I’m ready to take up the task. Even the services of my brother judges can be availed for the purpose,” the CJI said, adding that the judge who mediates between the parties would not be a part of the bench hearing the case later. The Bench then asked Swamy to consult the parties and inform it about the decision on March 31.
The observations were lapped up by leaders of the saffron party, with Adityanath calling it a ‘solid and welcome’ move. The RSS also welcomed it, stating it always favoured an out-of-court settlement. While the RSS general secretary Dattatreya Hosbole said his organisation would stand with the decision of the “Dharma Sansad” of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), senior functionary Manmohan Vaidya said the grand Ram temple should be built either through dialogue or legislation.
The Congress, too, favoured a negotiated settlement for lasting peace. “If all stakeholders can arrive at a mutually acceptable consensus-based solution, it will go a long way in ensuring lasting peace and goodwill,” Congress’ Randeep Surjewala said.