A roadmap to solve the 60-year-old Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute is expected today as the Supreme Court takes a final call on whether it would order a formal mediation. Despite the disapproval of most of the parties involved, the court is in favour of mediation in the case. A five-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, had said the case was not about property, but “mind, heart and healing — if possible”.
The dispute involves 2.77 acres of land in Ayodhya where a 16th Century mosque, said to be built by Mughal emperor Babur, stood. The Hindu activists who razed it in December 1992, believe that it was built on the ruins of an ancient temple marking the birthplace of Lord Ram.
During the last hearing on Wednesday, most of the Hindu petitioners, the Uttar Pradesh government and the consul of “Ram Lalla” — the deity infant Lord Ram — had shown reluctance towards mediation. The Sunni Waqf Board, which ready to give mediation a shot, is concerned about privacy during the negotiations. The Nirmohi Akhara, one of the Hindu petitioners in the case, has also agreed for mediation.
After hearing them, the court had reserved its order on appointing a mediator.
The Constitution Bench, which is hearing the case, said mediation may help in “healing relations”. Even if there is “one per cent chance” of settling the dispute amicably, the parties should go for mediation, the bench had said.
Two years ago, the court had suggested that the two sides explore the possibility of resolving the matter through negotiation. The court even said it was ready to mediate if they agreed. But negotiations did not take off as all sides involved said they wanted the court to take a call.
After the court’s fresh call for negotiations, the Hindu groups contended that the public would not accept a solution arrived at through mediation. The advocate representing Ram Lalla said the Ram Janmabhoomi was a matter of faith and therefore non-negotiable.
Mediation will push back any possibility of an early beginning of the construction of the Ram temple — the top priority of right-wing groups ahead of the coming national elections. There have also been calls to bypass the judicial process through an ordinance of executive order by the government. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi said no decision could be made until the judicial process is over.