Supreme Court suggests out-of-court settlement of Ayodhya dispute, calls Ram Mandir matter of sentiment

The Supreme Court said an amicable settlement of the Ayodhya Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute was a better course than on insisting on judicial pronouncement.

Hearing a petition filed by the Bharatiya Janata Party's Subramanian Swamy today, the Supreme Court today said the construction of a Ram Mandir at Ayodhya was an issue of sentiment and religion, and asked the disputing parties to sort the matter outside court.

"An amicable settlement of the Ayodhya Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute was a better course than on insisting on judicial pronouncement," a bench of Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said.

Calling Ayodhya a sensitive matter, Swamy had urged the Supreme Court to constitute a bench to hear a batch of petitions challenging a 2010 Allahabad High Court order.

The 2010 order said that there should be a partition of the Ayodhya land between the parties to the dispute.

"The matter involves sentiments on both sides. It should be settled amicably between the disputing parties... The Supreme Court will come in the picture of you can't settle the dispute outside the court," the apex court said.

SETTLE AYODHYA OUTSIDE COURT

The Supreme Court said the Ram temple is a "sensitive and sentimental" issue and it's best that it is settled amicably outside the court.

Saying that negotiated settlement between the parties to the dispute was the best course, Chief Justice Khehar offered to act as a mediator provided that he would not hear the matter on the judicial side.

Justice Khehar told Swamy: "Any person of your choice. You want me to mediate (but) I will not hear (on judicial side). You want my brother (Judge). There are issues. You all sit together across the table and decide."

Pointing towards Justice Kaul, the Chief Justice said that he too could mediate.

The Supreme Court has asked Swamy to consult the parties and inform it about the decision on March 31.

Swamy later told India Today TV that the Babri Masjid can be shifted anywhere else near the Saryu river. The Waqf Board's Zafaryab Jilani, a prominent party to the dispute, has rejected the out-of-court settlement idea.

Babri Masjid, a medieval mosque built in the 16th century, was demolished by a Hindu mob on December 6, 1992. A number of senior BJP leaders, including LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, and Vinay Katiyar are the accused in the case.

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