SA Bobde, the outgoing Chief Justice of India, had wanted popular Hindi actor Shah Rukh Khan to be one of the members of the mediation panel set up by the Supreme Court in March 2019 to resolve the Ayodhya dispute case. The revelation was made by Vikas Singh, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, on the occasion of Bobde’s farewell function, the Bar and Bench reported on Friday.
“While he was in the initial stage of the Ayodhya hearing, he was of firm view that the problem could be resolved through mediation. He asked me if Shah Rukh Khan can be a part of the committee. I asked and he was more than willing. Unfortunately mediation did not work,” Singh said.
The Ayodhya dispute, one of India’s biggest political, historical and socio-religious debate, dates back to the 1850s when the first religious violence occurred around the Babri Masjid, at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh. It was the beginning of the religious debate that Babri Masjid was built in the place of Lord Ram’s birthplace. It led to the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992, followed by riots across the country.
In March 2019, a Supreme Court Bench had asked a mediation panel to resolve the Ayodhya dispute comprising former Supreme Court judge Justice FMI Kalifulla, spiritualist and founder of the Art of Living Foundation Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and senior advocate Sriram Panchu.
Bobde wanted Khan to be a part of the same panel.
According to The Print, Singh said that after CJI Bobde mentioned Khan being a part of the panel, he discussed the matter with the actor. He said that Khan “was more than willing to be a part of this mediation because he felt that the best way in which Hindu-Muslims can live peacefully in this country is that there should be complete religious harmony.”
Singh mentioned that Khan had suggested that “the foundation stone of the Hindu temple should be laid by some prominent Muslims and vice-versa — the foundation stone of the mosque be laid by some prominent Hindus. Unfortunately, the mediation did not go ahead.”
However, the failure of the mediation led to the Court to proceed with the hearing that lasted 40 days before the long-awaited historic judgement was pronounced on November 9, 2019. The court handed over the disputed site to the Centre for the construction of a Ram mandir (temple) by making a trust, while allotting the Sunni Wakf Board five acres of plot at Ayodhya to build a new mosque.
The five-judge bench at the apex court that delivered the judgement comprised CJI Bobde.