We'll hear Ayodhya case merely as a land row

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After the meeting, the AOL said eminent members of the Sunni Waqf Board, All India Muslim Personal Law Board and others met Ravi Shankar and expressed support for an out-of- court settlement in the Ayodhya matter. With these directions, it is expected that the case will be ripe for hearing when it is taken up next at 2 pm on March 14. We are treating it as a land dispute.

The court also brought to notice that it would be dealing with the Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid case as a pure land dispute case. The bench also refused permission to 32 activists and eminent personalities, including Teesta Setalvad, Shyam Benegal, Aparna Sen, Medha Patkar and Aruna Roy to intervene in the dispute. All three chose to challenge the order before the top court.

A three-judge bench of the Allahabad High Court, in a 2:1 majority ruling, had in 2010 ordered that the land be partitioned equally among three parties - the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Uttar Pradesh Government, told the Bench that 504 exhibits, including scriptures such as the Ram Charit Manas and the Bhagavad Gita, their excerpts and 87 depositions along with the translations had been filed.

Advocate Ejaz Maqbool, representing some of the appellant Muslim parties, said they could not understand contents of some books produced by the state and, hence, English translations should be filed.

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The AIMPLB has renewed its effort to find an amicable solution to the Ayodhya dispute as the Supreme Court started hearing the case on Thursday.

Posting the next hearing for March 14, it asked parties in the case to file translated copies of the documents before it.

Rehmani, however, said the Board will abide by the Supreme Court's decision in the matter.

The 32 petitioners include slain filmmaker Safdar Hashmi's brother Sohail Hashmi, documentary maker Anand Patwardhan, academics Ganesh Devy, Jayati Ghosh, Kalpana Kannabiran, Muniza Khan and G Haragopal, editors Om Thanvi and Kumar Ketkar, businessman Cyrus Guzder, writer Kiran Nagarkar, Rupa Mody whose son, Azhar Mody went missing during the 2002 Gujarat riots and many other eminent personalities from diverse backgrounds.

"At least 700 cases involving ordinary citizens can be disposed of in 25 days if the court deals with them for about an hour-and-a-half", Justice Misra said.