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For Supreme Court, Ayodhya is a land dispute

10 February 2018, 02:56 | Bernice Figueroa

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Amid claims and counter-claims by various Hindu and Muslim leaders over the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya, the Supreme Court on Feb 8 refused to be drawn into religious arguments, saying it was only a property dispute. With these directions, it is expected that the case will be ripe for hearing when it is taken up next at 2 pm on March 14.

On Thursday, the three-judge Supreme Court bench fixed March 14 as the next date of hearing in Ayodhya case as some of the documents and translations were yet to be filed before the apex court.

Commenting on the matter, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra had said the Supreme Court will treat the matter as "pure land dispute".

The High Court ordered a three-way division of the disputed 2.77 acres of the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi site, giving a third each to the Nirmohi Akhara sect, the Sunni Central Wakf Board of UP, and Ramlalla Virajman, the idol of the child Ram placed there. Whatever the decision, no party should view it as its victory or loss in the case, said the statement. On Thursday, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government, said a total of 524 exhibits had been filed in court besides 20 books.

Hinting at a peaceful solution to the Ram temple dispute, Maulana Salman Nadwi said, "Islam allows you to shift a masjid (mosque) to another site, Ram Mandir should be constructed in Ayodhya to set an example of communal harmony". However, the bench wondered what role non-parties or intervenors had in a land dispute which was between the parties to the original title suit before the Allahabad HC. The Bench while granting two weeks for completion of translation asked the Registry to supply copies of videos of Archaeological Survey of India, which were submitted as evidence before the Allahabad High Court. "They want to assist the court in reaching a just verdict".

The 32 petitioners include slain filmmaker Safdar Hashmi's brother Sohail Hashmi, documentary maker Anand Patwardhan, academics Ganesh Devy, Jayati Ghosh, Kalpana Kannabiran, Muniza Khan and G Haragopal, editors Om Thanvi and Kumar Ketkar, businessman Cyrus Guzder, writer Kiran Nagarkar, Rupa Mody whose son, Azhar Mody went missing during the 2002 Gujarat riots and many other eminent personalities from diverse backgrounds. "Those cases can also be disposed of if we give them an hour or hour and a half", CJI Misra said.

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