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India Legal Show discusses Babri Masjid dispute

India Legal Show discusses Babri Masjid dispute
India Legal Show discusses Babri Masjid dispute
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Religious leaders from the Hindu and Muslim community, politicians and former judges express their viewpoints on the programme telecast on APN News 

The Supreme Court recently said that the Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid issue should be solved amicably between parties through an out-of-court-settlement. The chief justice of India, who was heading the bench hearing the issue, observed that there were “issues of sentiments and religion” involved and he was willing to personally play the role of a mediator between the parties, if needed.

A majority of religious leaders from the Muslim and Hindu communities have welcomed the move but feel that arriving at a solution through negotiations is difficult.

Earlier, the top court also decided to examine whether criminal-conspiracy charges could be brought back against LK Advani, Uma Bharti, Murli Manohar Joshi, Vinay Katiyar and other top BJP leaders in connection with the Babri Masjid demolition case. The matter will be taken up on April 6 by the apex court. The CBI had challenged the Allahabad High Court’s verdict quashing criminal conspiracy charges against them.

So, will the Ram Mandir issue be solved finally or will matters complicate further? This was the discussion in the recent India legal Show telecast by APN News. The show looked into all the conceivable political and legal implications of the issue.

The panel included former acting chief justice of the Karnataka and Gauhati High Court K Sreedhar Rao; former chief justice of the Chhattisgarh High Court, Yatindra Singh; Muslim community leader Maulana Ansar Raza; former spokesperson of the Shankaracharya HS Rawat; senior BJP leader Vinay Katiyar; Babri Masjid Action Committee convener Zafaryab Jilani; chairman of Sri Ram Janamabhoomi Nyas Mahant Nritya Gopal Das; and the counsel for Lord Rama in the civil suit on Babri Masjid demolition, Ranjana Agnihotri.  We bring you excerpts from the discussion:

Justice Yatindra Singh agreed with the Supreme Court’s observation that this issue should be amicably resolved outside the court. But this is not the first time that an idea of a negotiated settlement has been mooted. Why did past attempts did not yield any result? Maulana Ansar Raza felt that there was no problem in the world which could not be solved through dialogue and discussion and he too welcomed the observation of the Supreme Court. So, was the initiative lacking from the Hindu community? HS Rawat said: There is nothing of this sort. All Hindu religious rites are already taking place at the disputed site and the idols are being worshipped day and night. What is needed is a temple. And if me and Raza bhai can arrive at a solution which is acceptable to both the parties, nothing like it… We should be allowed to built a temple there and I urge Raza sahab that he is free to take any extent of land to build a mosque and we will fully cooperate.”

Is it that easy as the religious leaders proclaim? Justice Sreedhar Rao said: The issue of title has been clearly decided by the Allahabad High Court, which has given a very equitable solution. The issue needs to be settled through compromise now than ever before, due to the tense situation the world over.”

Commenting on the observations made by the apex court, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das said: “We welcome it. It is now time for the Muslim community to come forward and initiate the construction of the Ram temple.”

Babri Masjid Action Committee convener Zafaryab Jilani feels that the observation made by the Supreme Court reflects its concerns on the issue. “But I feel that the entire historical background of the issue was not submitted before the SC bench and neither any of our lawyers were present in the court. Numerous discussions have taken place in the past, with the prime minister, and with the Shankaracharya, but they are not budging from their stand. Representatives of the Ram temple want that Muslims should withdraw all claims over the masjid. I believe even Subramaniam Swamy said the same thing. But the court was probably not aware that this demand is not negotiable.”

Expressing her viewpoint, Ranjana Agnihotri said: “The Supreme Court has made it amply clear in the Ismail Faruqui case that the mosque is not an integral part of Islam. And whosoever (Hindus or Muslims) can prove that the site is an integral part of their religion, the land would belong to them. The claims of the Sunni waqf board have been struck down, so they have no role to play. The Muslim scriptures clearly say that namaz can be rendered at a place which is peaceful, where no sounds emanate of ghanta, ghariyal, etc. Muslims must adhere to these tenets.”

However, Maulana Ansar Raza made it clear that whether a temple or a mosque is built at the site, it should not be at the cost of human lives.

So, can this issue be solved outside the court? Yatindra Singh said: “This dispute has been going on for the past 60 years but remains unresolved as yet because in the past many mistakes have been committed, injustices done. A very important and reasonable point was made during the 1990s by Maulana Wahiuddin Khan, a well-known Islamic scholar, which was unfortunately set aside. Khan wanted his Muslim brothers to keep the issue limited to Ayodhaya, not extend it to Kashi and Mathura. Secondly, he had requested Muslims to vacate their claim over the disputed site. And thirdly he wanted that henceforth, all places in India related to Hindu or Muslim worship would not be disturbed. And, he suggested that an act related to this called, Place of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, should be given constitutional status.

Singh added that today, both the prime minister and the UP CM can solve the issue amicably as they have a strong mandate. He pointed out that instead of allowing the issue to go outside the ambit of court, the SC should form a bench to examine the issue and give a reasonable verdict.

Vinay Katiyar said that the SC had only made an observation; it was not a judgment. But it is historical and significant. “It would be great if an out-of-court settlement is reached but the Muslim community leaders are running away. They say that talks have failed in the last six attempts. But I feel talks must go on until a settlement is reached.”

Justice Sreedhar Rao felt that the issue had been highly politicised. “The issue would have been solved if it was left to the civil society. Both the community leaders should sit together and keep away the politicians.”

For more details see the video below:

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