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Ayodhya: 'Muslims ready for out-of-court settlement'

September 15, 2010 16:31 IST

An application has been filed before the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court seeking a direction to both parties to settle this matter amicably so as to avoid any controversy that might follow the judgment. While the Vishwa Hindu Parishad is not in favour of an out-of-court settlement, the Muslim community feels that in the interest of peace and harmony, they are willing to settle the matter out-of-court.

Professor Muhammad Sulaiman, senior member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board told's Vicky Nanjappa that they are ready for an out-of-court settlement. However he says the real problem is that Muslims cannot hand over the title to the other party since they are not the owners of the land in question, only the caretakers.

Why has such an application seeking an out-of-court settlement been filed, when the verdict was reserved for orders?

Ramesh Chandra Tripathi, the 17th defendant in the title suit has filed this application seeking intervention of the court to get the matter settled out-of-court. In his application, Tripathi has sought a direction to both parties to resolve the matter amicably. This application has been filed in the larger interest to prevent any disharmony and also bearing in mind the Commonwealth Games which will begin on October 3.

Is such an application valid?

Yes! Section 89 of the Civil Procedure Code provides for the same. The courts are also empowered to seek further arguments at any point of time and there is no hard and fast rule which states that no further examination can take place once a verdict is reserved for orders.

Do you think that it is good to get the verdict delayed?

No that is not what I think and any further delay could cause more problems. However what I also feel is that if there is an opportunity to settle the matter amicably then it should be done at any cost. A verdict may go in favour of one party, but if the matter can be settled amicably then there should not be any issue with that.

What is the status of this application?

The court has issued notices to both parties returnable by Friday. We will have to present our case before the high court on that day. I am not sure what the other party has in mind, but we are keeping an open mind about it.

The stand of the other party is clear and that is you should hand over the land. Is that an option?

(Laughs) That cannot be an option. They have made this demand several times in the past and also before the court their line of argument has always been in that direction. There is a problem attached to us handing over the land.

And what is that problem?

We are not the owners of the land in the first place. We are the guardians and caretakers of the same. The law does not permit a guardian or a caretaker to hand over property. The title is not in our name and hence under no circumstance can we hand it over.

If you did hold the title, would you have handed over the land?

I am not saying that either. We are ready to negotiate.

What exactly do you mean by negotiate?

We are for peace and harmony and don't want any trouble. Handing over the land is not the solution. All we are saying that there is land and we are ready to accommodate. These are the things we would like to negotiate in case both parties are ready to sit across the table and talk. As I said earlier, we are ready for an out-of-court settlement and now the ball is in their court. Let us see what they have to say on Friday. When we were called by the bench on an earlier occasion, we had conveyed that we were ready to settle the matter through arbitration. However at that time the other party was adamant.

What are your options in case the judgment goes against you?

We will go to the highest court and continue to fight out the case. We do not believe in violence and in this entire case, we  have proved that we are law abiding citizens.

Vicky Nanjappa