The Ayodhya dispute is a political, historical and socio-religious debate in India, centred on a plot of land in the city of Ayodhya, located in Faizabad district, Uttar Pradesh.

SC verdict for mediation

Supreme Court had referred the decades-old dispute for mediation and set up the panel, headed by former Supreme Court judge FM Kalifulla. The panel has been tasked by the court to hold consultations to explore a potential avenue for an amicable settlement.

The other two members of the panel are spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu, a well-known mediator in the legal circles. The panel was constituted after the court noted “the lack of consensus between the parties in the matter”. The court had asked the panel to conduct in-camera proceedings and were given eight weeks to speak to all stake-holders.

About the dispute

Hindus and Muslims have been at loggerheads for more than a century over the Babri mosque in Ayodhya, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

Hindus claim the mosque was the birthplace of one of their most revered deities, Lord Ram, and that it was built after the destruction of a Hindu temple by a Muslim invader in the 16th Century.

Muslims say they offered prayers at the mosque until December 1949, when some people placed the idols of Ram under the cover of darkness in the mosque. The worship of the idols began soon after.

Over the next four decades, Hindu and Muslim groups went to court over the control of the site and the right to offer prayers there. The dispute involves the site in Ayodhya where the 16th-century Babri mosque stood before it was razed in 1992 by Hindu activists who believe that it was built on the ruins of an ancient temple marking the birthplace of Lord Ram. In riots following the mosque demolition, 2,000 people died across the country.

Fourteen appeals have been filed in the top court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties – the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla (infant Ram).

Positives of the recent verdict

The Constitution Bench chose mediation despite objections from petitioners like the Uttar Pradesh government. Barring the Sunni Waqf Board and the Nirmohi Akhara, one of the Hindu petitioners, all were against mediation. But the judges said mediation may help in “healing relations”.

“It is not only about property. It is about mind, heart and healing, if possible,” the bench had said in a past hearing.

The mediation panel for the Ayodhya temple-mosque dispute was today given time till August 15 by the Supreme Court to come up with a solution. “The panel wants more time, which we are inclined to give,” said a constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. In the hearing that lasted six minutes, the Chief Justice also said: “The mediation panel is optimistic.”

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