Moving forward

Resolution of the Ayodhya dispute would help in reconciliation of Hindu-Muslim differences

A new three-judge bench of the Supreme Court will start daily hearings in the Ayodhya case beginning October 29. After several twists and turns the final hearings will begin in a bid to resolve the sensitive issue. The bench that included Chief Justice Dipak Misra has maintained that the apex court’s 1994 verdict in the Ismail Faruqui case will not be sent to a larger bench. It has also said this was a property dispute and the verdict would not influence the final outcome of the Ayodhya title suit. More specific is the Supreme Court observation that Ayodhya land dispute case will be resolved based on facts and evidence rather than what was discussed in the Faruqui case.

Both sides in the dispute have tried to keep emotions in check even though they would be aware of the importance of the verdict as important state elections are round the corner and Lok Sabha polls are not far away. The RSS, said it was hopeful that a “just verdict would be reached over the case at the earliest” and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board said it was positive the judgment noted the Faruqui case would not cast a shadow on the title suit.

But, this is a complicated matter, as the matter, going well over a century bears out. Justice S Abdul Nazeer’s dissenting note on Thursday said, “The conclusion in paragraphs of Faruqui that ‘a mosque is not an essential part of the practice of the religion of Islam and Namaz (prayer) by Muslims can be offered anywhere, even in open’ has been arrived at without undertaking comprehensive examination.” The judge perhaps wanted the role of mosques in Islam first determined which might have a bearing on Ayodhya case.

In the final hearings, the Supreme Court verdict will on 2010 ruling of the Allahabad High Court that divided 2.11 acre disputed land amongst Ram Lalla, Nirmohi Akhara and Sunni Waqf board. Meanwhile, little prevents the stakeholders concerned from setting aside their differences and arriving at an out of court settlement. RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagawat’s moderate line that Hindu society does not mean exclusion of Muslims is a timely reminder that India will have to celebrate its diversity. In essence, both sides should strive to find a mutually acceptable solution.

Which political party will benefit or lose should not be the criterion for finding a solution to the Ayodhya dispute that has vertically divided the Hindus and Muslims. That is also because the Supreme Court and the stakeholders cannot time the resolution of the issue to suit the political fortunes of a party. It therefore needs to be highlighted that moderate elements from both sides will have to lead any out of court dialogue. Resolution to Ayodhya dispute has the potential to serve as the springboard for reconciliation between Hindus and Muslims that could lay foundation stone for a progressive and prosperous Indian society.