Sunni Waqf board files conditional plea to settle Ayodhya case

Published : October 16, 2019 18:05 IST

A view of the Supreme Court of India. The Ayodhya case hearings went on in the court for 40 straight days and concluded on October 16. Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma

In a dramatic development, the Sunni Central Waqf Board, the main Muslim litigant in the Ayodhya case which claims ownership of the land where the Babri Masjid stood, filed an application in the Supreme Court for settlement today, also the last day of hearing in the Ayodhya case. The application was filed through the three-member mediation panel of retired Supreme Court judge F.M.I. Khalifullah, who heads the panel; Sriram Panchu, advocate; and Sri Sri Ravishankar, founder Art of Living.

According to reliable sources, the Sunni Central Waqf Board informed the apex court that it was willing to give up its claim on the title suit of the land provided it was given four guarantees:

* The government should give a guarantee that the status quo of all other religious places, where a dispute was going on, should be maintained as on August 15, 1947.

* The government should give Muslims permission to repair/renovate all other mosques in Ayodhya which were turning into rubble for want of upkeep at the moment.

* The Hindutva parties should drop their claim on the land in Mathura and Kashi where the Idgah Masjid and the Gyanvapi Masjid stand.

* The government should give a written undertaking that events like December 6, 1992, will not be repeated ever again.

According to sources in the Sunni Central Waqf Board, the proposal was now in front of the Supreme Court to take a view. Informed sources in the Waqf Board told Frontline, “We have to take a practical view of the matter. Even if the judgment was to come in our favour, is it possible that we will ever be able to offer prayer or build a mosque at that spot? Pragmatism demanded that we take a sensible approach to the issue, for the sake of peace and harmony in the country. That is why we decided to drop our claim on the land, provided these four guarantees are given to us.”

Interestingly, the mediation panel filed the application directly, without informing counsel representing either side. According to sources, apparently the Nirmohi Akhara, which is the third litigant in the title suit, and Ram Lalla Virajman (the deity) have also approved of the proposal.

The mediation panel had been set up by the Supreme Court earlier this year to explore the possibility of an out-of-court settlement. But its efforts had been stalled midway owing to the inflexible stand of all the parties concerned. But the Waqf Board reportedly expressed its willingness to start mediation again, and negotiations resumed last month. But the apex court continued its daily hearings, which concluded today after 40 days.

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