The Shia Waqf Board of Uttar Pradesh had filed an affidavit of 30 pages in the Supreme Court on Tuesday 08/08/2017, which stated that a mosque could be built at a reasonable distance from the disputed site in Ayodhya, in a Muslim Dominated area. The affidavit in itself is considered to be very important as it has been filed within a very short time, i.e. after the Supreme Court agreed to fast track the hearing of the case, because of the number of appeals filed against the decision of the Allahabad High Court. The Shia Wakf Board is of the view that it is better to avoid the closeness of the places of worship, as both the religious denominations would use loudspeakers which can disturb the peace and practices and harmony of the other religion, which would possibly result in bitterness and disagreements among the two camps.
As per the contentions gave by the Shia Wakf Board, it claimed that the site on which Babri Masjid was built, wholly belonged to the Shia Board, and the Board alone has a legal right to negotiate for a harmonious settlement. The Board has also requested the Apex Court to form a committee for a mutual settlement which shall be led by a retired judge of the Supreme Court who shall be assisted by two more retired judges of the Allahabad High Court, along with the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh or his nominee and one person to be nominated by the Prime Minister’s office.
The Shia Board has also assailed the stand of Sunni Wakf Board, by stating the disputed site property belongs only to the Shia Wakf Board. Further, the “Answering respondent (Shia Board) is also of the view that, to bring quietus, masjid can be located in a Muslim- dominated area at a reasonable distance from the most revered place of birth of Maryada Purshottam Sri Ram,”. The Shia Wakf Board is one of the party against the decision of Allahabad High Court. The Allahabad High Court in 2010, in its 2:1 majority verdict had ruled a three-way division of the debatable plot which measures up to 2.77 acres of land in Ayodhya. As per the judgement of the Court, the land was to be distributed equally amongst the Sunni Waqf Board and the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla. The decision was challenged by Both. In this decision the Sunni Wakf Board was allotted a part in the land, as the Shia Wakf Board was not a party to the original title suit and it was the Sunni Wakf Board that had first filed a suit in 1961, to possess the site and for the removal of idols from the premises of the mosque. After which the mosque was demolished by Hindu Karsevaks on 6th December 1992 marking it as a dark day in the history of the nation which witnessed a huge amount of bloodshed nation-wide, in which more than 2000 people were killed. The main claim of the Hindus behind this demolition was that the place where the mosque was built was actually the birthplace of Lord Ram. And it was on the order of Mughal Emperor Babur, that the mosque was constructed naming it as Babri Masjid. The Nirmohi Akhara forcefully acquired the mosque in 1853 stating that it was Ram Janmabhoomi (Birth place of Lord Rama).
It was on 21st July 2017, that the Supreme Court Bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar mentioned that the matter would be brought up for early hearing. This remark of the court came up with an answer to the plea of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy who had requested for an urgent hearing and listing of the matter. Swamy had mentioned the appeals against the Allahabad High Court are pending for the past seven years in the Supreme Court and they require early hearing and disposal. Along with this, he had also filed a separate petition seeking the enforcement of the right to worship without much inconvenience at the site. The Apex Court had initially questioned the locus standi of Swamy in the case.
BJP MP Subramanian Swamy and Union Minister Sanjiv Balyan have welcomed the decision of the Board. Swamy said that the intervention of the board was ‘God Sent’. Sanjiv Balyan has stated that ‘the affidavit by Shia Waqf board is worth welcoming. This issue has been pending in the court for so long. This affidavit is a big step towards this matter’.
The Chief Justice of India, Justice J S Khehar constituted a three-judge bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer to hear a batch of appeals challenging the Allahabad High Court’s decision. The Bench is set to hear the petitions from 11th August, 2017. Thus, the affidavit comes only three days’ before the Supreme Court can start hearing the appeals against the Allahabad High Court verdict on the land dispute in the case. This is also set to give a new direction to the disputed case.