Graveyard: SC for negotiated settlement between Shia and Sunni

The Supreme Court today favoured a negotiated settlement between Shia and Sunni communities to the 150-year-old dispute on ownership of Doshipura graveyard in Varanasi while directing the Uttar Pradesh Government to hold an inquiry to ascertain the "usage" of the property.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir noted that since late 1970s, several judicial orders have been passed and even the apex court had given directions in 1983 but the dispute between the two Muslim sects has not been settled.

"We know it is a sensitive issue but nothing would be more suitable if the settlement is reached through negotiation and out of court," it observed.

"We feel that dispute has to be settled for all time. Accordingly, we direct the state government to conduct inquiry for the purpose of usage of property by both the community," the court said.

The bench was hearing an application filed by Shia community seeking permission for constructing boundary wall around the disputed site.

"As well as we want that the inquiry be conducted whether the graveyard of two members of the Sunni community (in the disputed site) is completely walled or not and whether the graveyard has been separated or not," it said.

During the inquiry, the court said the authority concerned will ascertain whether the members of Sunni community have been performing religious rituals at the graveyard or not.

The bench said for the purpose of conducting the inquiry, the assistance of the Wakf Board should be taken and one member from each community must be accompanied.

The bench, also comprising justices A R Dave and Vikramajit Sen, said the report of the inquiry and photographs of the site have to be submitted to the court on February 28.

In the meantime, the court said the manner of usage of the plot as of today will be maintained.

... contd.

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