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Will the SCs suggestion of an out-of-court settlement offer any solution to the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute?
Many were surprised when Chief Justice of India JS Kheher advised that the Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid dispute should be amicably settled out-of-court. He even proposed for mediation by a sitting SC judge if both parties agree.

A mixed reaction to this proposal came immediately. Hindu outfits and groups especially BJP and RSS among others have welcomed the suggestion. Similarly, many ulemas, imams and various other religious representatives of the Muslim community too have welcomed the move. Both parties have also expressed that an amicable out-of-court settlement would always be a better option so that there should be no bitterness between the contesting communities.

But then, there are some others who although have no locus standi in the matter but have yet objected to this suggestion. The Muslim Law Board, Asaduddin Owaisi among others, who although are not direct stake holders in the dispute, but however, have been using this dispute for their vested political designs. They have straight away objected to this proposal because they know that whatever might be the court's decision, they can always provoke the Muslim community for vote bank politics.

It should not be forgotten that Hashim Ansari, the oldest and original litigant of this dispute, in fact, post Allahabad High Court's verdict, had expressed that building of a Ram Temple at the disputed site was an amicable solution.

Soon leaders of political parties like SP, Congress and others had rushed to Ansari for convincing him not to say such things in public that may end the contentious dispute once in for all. Although Hashim Ansari is no more, but I think his soul would be in a happy state after the SCs proposal.

Many people have also questioned as to why the SC has offered such a proposal. After all, isn't it the responsibility of the court to deliver a verdict? Thus, let the apex court deliver an unbiased verdict which would be binding on both communities.

However, what we need to understand is that this is not a simple case like an average title suit or a civil writ. Agreed, in nature and legality, the case is classified as a title suit, but then, there are a lot of complex "religious" and "sentimental" issues involved in this decades-long dispute which are deeply entangled in historical facts. For example when the matter was in Allahabad High Court, the pro-Ram Mandir side claimed that the Babri Masjid was built after demolishing the Ram Temple during Muslim rule. The pro-Babri Masjid side however claimed that since Islam clearly outlines that no mosque can ever be constructed over any illegal land, forcibly acquired land or by demolishing any other religious place of worship, no temple was demolished for the mosque's construction.

That's why the Allahabad High Court ordered the Archaeological Survey of India to probe into the matter and the findings finally concluded that there was indeed a temple underneath the demolished mosque's structure. Thus, due to involvement of religious sentiments, the case is extremely complicated on which even the judiciary wants to avoid delivering a verdict. It has almost become like a catch-22 situation where every one wants to pass on the buck towards the other side.

No matter in whosoever's favour the verdict is passed, but bitterness is bound to increase between the two communities as the community that ends up on the losing end will feel betrayed. That's why the Allahabad Court in 2010, in a split verdict had ruled for equal division of land between the Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhada and the party of Ram Lalla.

SC is also currently under the same dilemma. Those who question SC's present suggestion must recall that on November 15, 1994 the erstwhile Prime minister PV Narasimha Rao had sought SCs opinion on this controversy vide a presidential reference under article 143 (1) of the Constitution. Then, the five-member bench of the Supreme Court had refused to give its opinion because it would not be binding on the government. During the argument, the five-member bench had even asked the Central government whether they will implement whatever verdict the SC will deliver. However, since the Narasimha Rao government had failed to provide a commitment, the presidential reference was rejected.

This time around also the SC knows very well that a verdict in this dispute might be disastrous for the communal harmony of the nation. That's why it has suggested for an amicable out-of-court settlement between both sides.

One thing must be realised that such a chronic dispute particularly involving religious sentiments needs to be handled carefully. Neither can the dispute be allowed to remain unresolved anymore nor can the country afford communal tension.

It's been scientifically proven that there was a temple (Ram temple or not) on which the Babri Masjid was built, thus Hindus have a point here. It's also true that independent India had inherited a historical Mosque (Babri) which was forcefully and illegally demolished. Another point which takes the dispute in favour of the Hindus is that statue of Ram Lalla had mysteriously appeared inside the Babri Masjid on January 16th, 1950 just ten days before the Constitution of India came in to force.

The best solution should be to construct both a Ram Temple and a Babri Masjid at the disputed site separated by a high wall. Both communities should contribute for building the temple and mosque.

India has a majority youth population. All of them want to move ahead rather than being bogged down by mindless disputes like this. All want an early amicable solution to this dispute.

But the big question is, whether such a settlement would be possible. Frankly, I too have my doubts. My doubtsrests on the damaging capacity of the small but yet opportunistic vested interest groups. Although I wish, I'm proved wrong.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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