Hours before the Supreme Court concluded the 40-day hearing on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit, the Ayodhya mediation panel submitted its final report to the five-judge bench.
Outlining what has been described as a settlement agreement, people familiar with the development said on Wednesday. A key element of this proposed settlement is an offer by the UP Sunni Waqf Board to surrender its claim on the disputed site.
The offer is conditional on the government accepting three conditions to protect the interests of Muslims in other parts of the country including Ayodhya. It is not clear how, if at all, this last-minute offer would impact the proceedings before the court.
Outlining its three conditions, the Waqf Board wants the UP government to rebuild 22 mosques lying in a dilapidated condition, strict implementation of the Places of Religious Worship Act 1991.
Allowing Muslims to pray in all mosques under the central government’s Archaeological Survey of India. The Constitution bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi completed the oral hearing later on Wednesday and reserved its judgment. The parties concerned do still have three days to file written notes.
The bench has to determine cross-appeals upon the Allahabad high court’s 2010 judgment that the 2.77-acre disputed land in Ayodhya is divided evenly amongst the three parties the Sunni Waqf Board, the Akhara and “Ram Lalla Virajman”.
MR Shamshad, who represented one of the litigants Iqbal Ansari in the Supreme Court, insisted the Sunni Board’s offer to surrender its right over the land would not make a difference.
“This case is contested by six other Muslim parties in which Sunni Board is one party, and it has no more locus than any other individual Muslim parties,” Shamshad said.
The top court had earlier this year explored the possibility of mediation for an amicable settlement to the dispute, but the arbiters made little headway.
A three-member mediation panel led by retired judge justice FM Ibrahim Kalifulla and comprising Art of Living founder Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu tried to work for a resolution but failed to bridge differences.
The Constitution bench has subsequently held daily hearings starting on August 6. Last month, the top court, at the request of the mediation panel, allowed them to simultaneously talk to the parties concerned but many parties, particularly those known to have adopted a hard-line, stayed away from the final round of negotiations.
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