Ayodhya case: both sides say it should be one way or the other

Ayodhya case: both sides say it should be one way or the other

New Delhi: Lucknow-based Saleemuddin Khan, law officer of the Sunni Central Wakf Board, says it’s not possible for the Ayodhya title dispute to be resolved through a settlement.

In furtherance of his organization’s stand, Khan filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court on Monday, a day before a specially constituted bench will hear the case. But the Wakf Board is not alone—it’s being supported by the Hindu side as well.

Also See The Ayodhya Trial (PDF)

The Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha also filed an affidavit before the apex court, ruling out any reconciliation.

On Tuesday, the bench comprising Chief Justice Sarosh Homi Kapadia along with justices Kalavamkodath Sivasankara Panicker Radhakrishnan and Aftab Alam will jointly apply their minds to decide whether the Allahabad high court’s judgement in the 60-year-old case should be further postponed.

They are required by the petitioner, Ramesh Chandra Tripathi, to ponder the possibilities of a settlement among the 27 parties that are still fighting for the site.

The home ministry has also issued an advisory putting all states on high alert on Tuesday in case the Supreme Court dismisses the petition in the morning and the Allahabad high court goes ahead and pronounces its judgement later in the day.

Mohammad Hasim Ansari, the oldest litigant in the dispute, also wants that the high court issue its judgement before 1 October, the day justice Dharam Veer Sharma of the special bench that heard the case retires. If justice Sharma retires before the judgement, the case will have to be heard afresh. Khan said Tripathi’s petition to postpone the judgement was “made to put the clock back and to frustrate the entire efforts made by the parties".

Last week, by virtue of justices R.V. Raveendran and H.L. Gokhale being split on whether to dismiss or hear the case, judicial tradition of the Supreme Court bound the bench to admit it, while also making the Union government a party to the proceedings.

Justice Gokhale, who was elevated to the Supreme Court this March, made clear through his observations in the hour-long hearing that he believed a compromise was indeed possible. He held this view despite being informed that, of the 27 parties, only two were open to a settlement— Nirmohi Akhara and Tripathi himself.

Interestingly, justice Gokhale was the chief justice of the Allahabad high court from 2007 to 2009, when some of the hearings were being held before the special bench.

Legal experts say the apex court’s intervention in a case at this juncture is unprecedented, with the judgement of the Allahabad high court being withheld on the penultimate day of its scheduled delivery. While the powers of the Supreme Court under Article 136 of the Constitution are ample, petitioner Tripathi’s grounds appeared to be uncertain when he approached the bench under this provision.

Tripathi, who is a defendant in the civil suit, didn’t attend the 90-day hearing before the high court and also failed to show when the high court attempted reconciliation among the parties on 27 July. His plea for mediating the dispute was rejected by the high court on 17 September. Nonetheless, the court admitted the petition.

The government has been made a party to the case because Tripathi’s petition claims that there are several security concerns, such as the Commonwealth Games, Kashmir and the Maoist insurgency that the country is currently dealing with. Attorney general Goolam E. Vahanvati, who will appear for the Union government on Tuesday, declined to comment on the government’s position.

Sahil Makkar and PTI contributed to this story.