On Friday(December 1st), Citizens for Justice and Peace, a human rights and legal resource platform, filed an intervention application in the case of the Babri Masjid land dispute. The petition was filed by over three dozen interveners from all walks of life, including Shyam Benegal, Aparna Sen, Om Thanvi, RB Sreekumar, Anand Patwardhan, Ganesh Devy, Medha Patkar, Aruna Roy, Teesta Setalvad amongst others.
In its petition, the CJP submits to the Supreme Court that none of the parties of the original suit have been able to prove conclusive title to the disputed land. It highlighted the volatile nature of the issue, and urged the Supreme Court against taking sides. It was urged if such sides were taken, it would result in inevitable violence from the contesting community. It was stated that the issue should not be looked at through the lens of simply a land dispute, but as a larger issue of communal disharmony which must focus on establishing a peaceful resolution to the dispute.
The dispute over the land which was occupied by the Babri Masjid has been raging for over a century. The first suit regarding the structure was filed in 1885 when the Faizabad Deputy Commissioner refused to permit a temple to be built on the land adjoining the mosque. A title suit was filed in the Faizabad court against the Secretary of State seeking to build a temple in the courtyard of the Babri Masjid. In December, 1992, a mob of karsevaks demolished the Babri Masjid.
On September, 2010, the Allahabad High Court awarded two-thirds of Ayodhya site to Hindu parties, and one-third to the Waqf board. In February 2011, the CBI moved the Supreme Court, and the Allahabad High Court decision was stayed in May of the same year. In April, 2017, the Supreme Court decided to use powers under Article 132 of the Constitution to transfer the case to Rai Bareilly against BJP leaders L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi to Lucknow CBI court. The Supreme Court revived the conspiracy charges against them on April 19th, 2017. In August, the Supreme Court scheduled the hearing of 13 appeals in the case to be heard in December.
“The outcome of this dispute, perpetrated and violent, has the potential to affect the very foundations on which Indian democracy stands,” says Teesta Setalvad, co-founder and secretary, CJP. “It is time for the wounds caused by this conflict to heal and for peace-loving citizens of all communities, young and old to speak up for an inclusive and forward looking solution. This matter concerns the very soul of India,” she adds.
The hearing will come up in the Supreme Court on December 5th.
Full text of the petition here.