Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ayodhya case: Muslims ready to negotiate

Will the Ayodhya case be settled through a reconciliation and arbitration process or will the judgment be delivered is something that is to be seen on the 17th of September. An application had been filed before the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court seeking a direction to both parties to settle this matter amicably so as to avoid any controversy that may follow after the judgment is pronounced.

While the Vishwa Hindu Parishath is not in favour of an out of court settlement and feels that the matter should be decided by way of a judgment, the Muslim community which is the other party in the case feels that in the interest of peace and harmony they are willing to settle the matter out of court.

Professor Muhammad Sulaiman, senior member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board says that they are ready for an out of court settlement. However the real problem is that we cannot hand over the title to the other party since the Muslims are not the owners of the land in question, but we are only the caretakers, he says in this interview with

Why has such an application seeking an out of court settlement been filed when the verdict was reserved for orders?

Ramesh Chandra Tripathi, the 17th defendant in the title suit, Sunni Central Board of Waqf v/s Gopal Singh and Others has filed this application seeking intervention of the court to get the matter settled out of the court. In his application he has sought a direction to both parties to resolve the matter among themselves. This application has been filed in the larger interest to prevent any disharmony and also bearing in mind the Common Wealth games which will be inaugurated on October 3.

Is such an application valid at this point of time?

Yes it is and the Civil Procedure Code (CPC), section 89 provides for the same. The courts are also empowered to seek further arguments at any point of time and there is no hard and fast rule which states that no further examination can take place one a verdict is reserved for orders. Moreover it is a sensitive matter and courts can examine the case at any point of time.

Do you think that it is good to get the verdict delayed?

No that is not what I think and I think I told you earlier too any further delay could cause more problems. However what I also feel is that if there is an opportunity to settle the matter amicably then it should be done at any cost. A verdict may go in favour of one party, but if the matter can be settled amicably then I don’t think there should be any issue with that.

What is the status of this application?

The court has issued notices to both parties returnable by the 17th of September. We will have to present our case before the High Court on that day. I am not sure what the other party has in mind, but we are keeping an open mind about it.

The stand of the other party is clear and that is you should hand over the Mosque. Is that an option before you?

(Laughs) that cannot be an option. They have made this demand several times in the past and also before the court their line of arguments have always been in that direction. There is a problem attached to us handing over the Mosque.

And what is that problem?

We are not the owners of the Mosque in the first place. We are the guardians and also the care takers of the same. The law does not permit a guardian or a care taker to hand over property. The title suit is not in our name and hence under no circumstance can we hand it over.

So are you saying that if the title suit was in your name you would have handed over the Mosque?

I am not saying that either. We are ready to negotiate.

When you say negotiate, what exactly do you mean?

We are for peace and harmony and don’t want any trouble. Us handing over the Mosque is not the solution here. All we are saying that there is land and we are ready to accommodate. These are the things we would like to negotiate in case both parties are ready to sit across the table and talk. As I said earlier, we are ready for an out of court settlement and now the ball is in their court. Let us see what they have to say day after tomorrow. When we were called by the Bench on an earlier occasion, we had conveyed that we were ready to settle the matter through arbitration. However at that time the other party was adamant.

What are your options in case the judgment goes against you? Violence?

We will go to the highest court in India and continue to fight out the case. We do not believe in violence and in this entire case, we sure have proven one thing and that is we are law abiding citizens.

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