New Delhi: “This is not only about property, this is about sentiment and faith,” said Justice DY Chandrachud of the five-judge Supreme Court bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi on Wednesday as it commenced the hearing on the politically sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case.

This statement by one of the judges sounds ironical because the apex court had made it clear that it was concerned about the ownership of the disputed land alone. With today’s statement, the Supreme Court seems to be favouring the argument of the Hindu said, which was made today once again by one of the advocates, that the case is not a matter of property alone and that people’s sentiment and faith were linked to it.

The top court on February 26 had said it would pass an order on March 6 on whether to refer the matter to a court-appointed mediator.

The bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi will decide whether the case can be adjudicated through mediation. The other judges of the bench are Justices SA Bobde, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer.

The court said it was “conscious of the gravity of the dispute and outcome of mediation on body politics” on the Ayodhya land dispute case.

However, one of the advocates on the Hindu side, Hari Shankar Jain, argued that mediation would be an exercise in futility as neither side to the dispute would agree to it. He added that a public notice needs to be issued to the effect before the process of mediation starts.

But CJI Gogoi said it was better to not jump to the conclusion that a mediation would bear no fruit. To that, Justice Bobde added, if or when the mediation the court is mulling over begins, the media must not promptly start reporting it.

Jutice Bobde said the court was not imposing restrictions on the media but all care must be taken to ensure that the process of mediation is not affected (by a media trial).

“We have no control over what happened in the past,” was another statement that came from the apex court while it began hearing the Ayodhya case on Wednesday.

Justice Bobde noted that the court’s was an effort to mould the mind, the heart and relationships (between communities in society). He said that the apex court was aware of the gravity of the case and the possible impact of the verdict whenever that comes. He told the advocate above not to presume he had more faith in the judicial process than the highest court of the country.

Justice Bobde said the court was aware of the history related to Ayodhya as well. The judge said the court was “not concerned about what Babar did and what happened after”. It added, “We can go into what exists in present” and settle the dispute. He said the court believed it could resolve the issue.

Justice Chandrachud then remarked, since the case concerned two communities, it would be incorrect on the part of the court to force the sides into a process of mediation and resolution — as binding crores of people to the process was not a mean task. He said while it was desirable that the two sides resolve the dispute through a dialogue, it was not clear how that stage could be reached.

Justice Bobde then asked whether all the parties to the dispute would accept it if the apex court were to reach a verdict on the aspect of land dispute alone.

Swamy's submission to SC on Ayodhya dispute

Subramanian Swamy on Wednesday submitted before the Supreme Court that the PV Narasimha Rao government had promised to hand over the disputed land to build a temple if a pre-existing temple was found at the site.

The land, Swamy said, has ever since been nationalised.

As MyNation had reported earlier, the Narendra Modi government was contemplating returning the extra land acquired by the state around the disputed site to their respective original owners.

Swamy said on Wednesday that the government could hand over the land to whoever it wants. The winning party, according to him, will only get a compensation.

SC reserves order on mediation as Ram Lalla Virajman objects, Muslim side and Nirmohi Akhara agree

Reacting to the development in the Supreme Court, the Hindu Mahasabha has said that mediation is not possible in this case as the land belongs to Lord Rama.

No compromise is possible, the Hindu Mahasabha added. The organisation founded by Veer Sawarkar demanded the release of a public notice to the effect before initiating the process of mediation.

The lawyers representing Ram Lalla Virajman ― a living entity and also a party to the dispute legally ― said it would not accept mediation either.

The Nirmohi Akhara and thr Muslim party to the dispute, however, are ready for mediation. Now the apex court will take a view on mediation. It has reserved its opinion on the matter.

With inputs from Gopal Krishan