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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

Sunni Board offers to surrender claim in Ayodhya dispute, has 4 conditions

Outlining its conditions, the Wakf Board wants the UP government to rebuild 22 mosques lying in dilapidated condition, strict implementation of the Places of Religious Worship Act 1991, and allowing Muslims to pray in all mosques under the central government’s Archaeological Survey of India.

india Updated: Oct 16, 2019 22:52 IST
Ashok Bagriya
Ashok Bagriya
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Zafaryab Jilani, lawyer for the Sunni Wakf Board, speaks to the media after the hearing in the Ramjanmabhumi-Babri Masjid title dispute case, at Supreme Court, in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Zafaryab Jilani, lawyer for the Sunni Wakf Board, speaks to the media after the hearing in the Ramjanmabhumi-Babri Masjid title dispute case, at Supreme Court, in New Delhi on Wednesday. (Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)
         

Hours before the Supreme Court concluded the 40-day hearing on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit, the Ayodhya mediation panel submitted its final report to the five-judge bench outlining what has been described as a settlement agreement, people familiar with the development said on Wednesday.

A key element of this proposed settlement is an offer by the UP Sunni Waqf Board to surrender its claim on the disputed site. The offer is conditional on the government accepting four conditions to protect the interests of Muslims in other parts of the country including Ayodhya.

It is not clear how, if at all, this last-minute offer would impact the proceedings before the court.

Outlining its four conditions, the Waqf Board wants the UP government to rebuild 22 mosques lying in dilapidated condition. The second condition requires strict implementation of the Places of Religious Worship Act 1991. The third condition pertains to allowing Muslims to pray in all mosques under the central government’s Archaeological Survey of India. Fourth condition states that the Waqf board be allowed to build a mosque at a suitable place other than the disputed site.

ALSO WATCH | Ayodhya verdict reserved: A look at key arguments from both sides in SC

The Constitution bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi completed the oral hearing later on Wednesday and reserved its judgment. The parties concerned do still have three days to file written notes.

The bench has to decide cross-appeals against the Allahabad high court’s 2010 verdict that the 2.77-acre disputed land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and “Ram Lalla Virajman”.

MR Shamshad, who represented one of the litigants Iqbal Ansari in the Supreme Court, insisted the Sunni Board’s offer to surrender its right over the land would not make a difference. “This case is contested by six other Muslim parties in which Sunni Board is one party and it has no more locus than any other individual Muslim parties,” Shamshad said.

The top court had earlier this year explored the possibility of mediation for an amicable settlement to the dispute, but the arbiters made little headway. A three-member mediation panel led by retired judge justice FM Ibrahim Kalifulla and comprising Art of Living founder Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu tried to work for a resolution, but failed to bridge differences. The Constitution bench has subsequently held daily hearings starting on August 6.

Last month, the top court, at the request of the mediation panel, allowed them to simultaneously talk to the parties concerned but many parties, particularly those known to have adopted a hard line, stayed away from the final round of negotiations.