In a fresh turn of events, the Shia Central Waqf Board of Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that a mosque could be built in a Muslim-dominated area at a reasonable distance from the disputed site in Ayodhya.
The board also told the apex court in an affidavit that the Babri Masjid site was its property and only it was entitled to hold negotiations for an amicable settlement of the dispute.
The 30-page affidavit assumes significance as it has been filed within few days of the apex court agreeing to fast track the hearing on a batch of appeals challenging the Allahabad high court verdict on the land dispute in the case.
The Waqf Board has sought time from the top court for setting up of a committee for exploring an amicable resolution of the vexatious issue.
Assailing the stand of the Sunni Central Waqf Board, it said, "...since Babri Masjid was a Shia Waqf Board property, Shia Central Waqf Board UP alone is entitled to negotiate and arrive at a peaceful settlement with other remaining stakeholders."
"Answering respondent (Shia Board) is also of the view that, to bring quietus, masjid can be located in a Muslim-dominated area at a reasonable distance from the most revered place of birth of Maryada Purshottam Sri Ram," the affidavit said.
The Shia Board is one of the parties in the pending appeals in the apex court.
Recently, a three-judge bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer has been constituted by Chief Justice J S Khehar to hear a batch of petitions challenging the Allahabad high court verdict in the Ayodhya land dispute case from August 11.
The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court had in 2010 ruled a three-way division of the disputed 2.77 acres area at the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri masjid site in Ayodhya.
The three-judge bench of the high court, by a 2:1 majority, had said the land be partitioned equally among three parties -- the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
On July 21, a bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar had said that it would soon take a decision to list the matter for early hearing.
The court's remark had come on a plea of Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy who sought urgent listing and hearing of the matter.
Swamy had said the main appeals against the Allahabad high court order are pending for the last seven years in the apex court and these required urgent hearing.
He had also said that a separate petition had earlier been filed by him seeking enforcement of his right to worship without much hassle at the site.
The BJP leader had told the court that he has been allowed by the apex court to intervene in the matter and is seeking expeditious disposal of the cases.