Ayodhya dispute: In 2010, SC delayed judgment for reconciliation effort

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Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Published:March 22, 2017 4:39 am

The Supreme Court Tuesday favoured amicable resolution of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suits — an appeal that one of its judges had made in 2010 when the question before it was whether a fresh chance for reconciliation should be given before the Allahabad High Court was to deliver its verdict on the dispute. Sitting on a division bench, Justice H L Gokhale had on September 23, 2010, said that instead of a court judgment, a fresh attempt should be made for settlement between the parties. The judge said the verdict’s consequences might witness “ordinary people” suffering.

Justice Gokhale had noted that it was not just a dispute between individuals but concerned the whole country. “The verdict would establish the rights of two communities and not individuals… those who are not parties to the suits will be the real sufferers,” he had asserted. The judge, who was sharing the bench with Justice R V Raveendran, had said that another shot at conciliation between the disputing parties was required in a dispute like this. “If it (the case) comes on appeal, the parties will be more hardened. In a matter like this, it could be worse. If there is a one per cent chance now (of reconciliation), there is zero per cent chance then (after the court order),” he said.

Justice Gokhale had said the apex court would be the first to be blamed if “passions rise” after the verdict by the high court. Justice Raveendran had differed from this view, saying that people were not so immature as to not accept the verdict, but he respected Gokhale’s view and was giving reconciliation another chance by deferring the HC verdict, which was slated to be delivered at 3.30 pm that day. The court order of deferring the verdict had come on a petition filed by one Ramesh Chandra Tripathi, who was one of the 28 litigating parties in the title suit.

Tripathi was then represented by senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi, who requested the bench to “lend the soothing touch to this dispute”. This plea was opposed by senior advocate Ravi Shankar Prasad, appearing for Mahant Paramhans Ramachandra Das (now dead), and Sunni Central Wakf Board’s lawyer Anoop Chaudhary, who contended that reconciliation efforts have failed several times in the past. But Justice Gokhale said: “… let it fail once more. The court is not running away. Consider this as an appeal by an ordinary citizen.” Justice Raveendran then stayed the HC judgment to explore possibilities of an out-of-court settlement.IAS officer held for helping son’s bid to erase murder footprint

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