Saturday, October 9, 2010

Muslim apex body favours move for appeal

NEW DELHI/LUCKNOW: The All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has decided in principle that the Muslim side will go to the Supreme Court in appeal against the Allahabad High Court\'s verdict in the Ayodhya title suits.

This sets at rest speculation that the Board is under pressure from sections of the Muslim leadership to drop the "going in appeal" route and try for negotiations in the wake of the judgment allotting a third of the disputed land to the Sunni Central Waqf Board (SCWB).

The AIMPLB\'s legal sub-committee met in New Delhi on Saturday and examined the "legal infirmities" in the case as also the options before the Board: whether the AIMPLB should restrict its role to providing support to the SCWB, the main litigant for Muslims, or it should join forces with the Waqf Board and become an intervener. The working committee of the AIMPLB will take a final view at its October 16 meeting in Lucknow.

Sources told The Hindu that there was no difference of opinion within the AIMPLB on taking the next step in the legal process. Indeed, many among those who attended the meeting argued that it would be a grave mistake if Muslims foreclosed the legal option of going to the higher court.

They also emphasised that there was no contradiction between moving the Supreme Court and attempting an equitable negotiated settlement.

On Friday, a section of the Muslim leadership had set the rumour mills grinding by suggesting that Muslims consider accepting the High Court verdict. However, this was not an option the AIMPLB could seriously consider. For a start, the SCWB has already announced its decision to go to the Supreme Court. It reiterated this on Saturday. Secondly, it has long been the official stand of the AIMPLB that Muslims will accept the "final court judgment" in the case. It cannot afford to change this stand, especially given that the High Court dismissed the Muslim suit. Besides, there is a strong view within the Muslim community that the reasoning by which the High Court arrived at its decision to trifurcate the land — giving primacy to the Hindu faith — must be vigorously contested.

On the day of the verdict, Kamal Farooqui, a member of the AIMPLB, had described it as a "chance for reconciliation between Hindus and Muslims."

On Saturday, he told The Hindu that attempts for an "honourable negotiated settlement" can proceed alongside the appeal.

Asked whether Muslims would be willing to give up the land to Hindus, he said: "That would be surrender. I am talking of an honourable settlement, of a Masjid- alongside-Mandir solution."

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