New Delhi, March 21 :  The Supreme Court on Tuesday said the settlement of the Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute through negotiation is a better course than insisting on a judicial pronouncement. A bench of Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul made this observation as BJP leader Subramanian Swamy urged the court to constitute a bench to hear a batch of petitions challenging a 2010 Allahabad High Court order, as the matter was pending before it for the past six years.

The 2010 Allahabad High Court order said that there should be a partition of the disputed Ayodhya land between the parties who are claimants to it. The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court by its September 30, 2010, verdict ordered that the land around the disputed site would be divided into three parts — one for Hindus, another for Muslims and the third for Nirmohi Akhara — a Hindu sect and an original litigant in the case.

The Supreme Court had put the Allahabad High court verdict on hold on May 9, 2011, describing it as a “rare judgment whose operation has to be stayed”. Stating that a negotiated settlement between the parties was the best course, Chief Justice Khehar offered to act as a mediator, provided that he would not hear the matter on the judicial side.

Pointing towards Justice Kaul, the Chief Justice said that he, too, could mediate. Justice Khehar told Swamy: “Any person of your choice. You want me to mediate (but) I will not hear (on judicial side). You want my brother (judge). There are issues. You all sit together across the table and decide.”

Asking Swamy to make a fresh attempt for a negotiated settlement, the bench said that the sensitive issues had better settled through negotiations. “Our order will bind you. That is not the right way of settling sensitive issues,” the bench told Swamy, who told the court that some judicial intervention was necessary.

The BJP leader told the court that he had earlier approached the Muslim leaders but they insisted on the judicial determination of the dispute. Asking Swamy to come back on March 31, the court said: “You make an effort, if you don’t succeed, then come back to us.”