SC allows mediation process to continue

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Thursday allowed mediation process to continue in the politically sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case and sought a report on its outcome by August 1. A five-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, said that after perusing the report filed by the mediation panel, it will take a call on August 2 on whether hearing is required in the case.
The bench, which perused a report about the progress of mediation process till July 18, said its contents will remain confidential as per its earlier order. “However, taking into account what has been brought to our notice by the said report, we now fix hearing of the case, if required on and from August 2,” the bench, also comprising justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer, said. The report was filed by the panel headed by former apex court judge F M I Kalifulla.
The apex court requested the committee to inform it by August 1 about the outcome of the proceedings held till July 31. The bench also took into record an application filed by one of the parties pointing to discrepancies in the translated copies of the records related to the case. The apex court, had on July 11 sought a report on the mediation process and said that a day-to-day hearing might commence from July 25 if the court decides to conclude the mediation proceedings.
It had requested Justice (Retd) F M I Kalifulla to apprise it by July 18 of the progress of mediation till date and its present stage. It had passed the order while hearing an application filed by a legal heir of one of the original litigants, Gopal Singh Visharad, seeking a judicial decision on the dispute and conclusion of the mediation process, alleging that not much was happening there.
The panel, also comprising spiritual guru and founder of the Art of Living foundation Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate and renowned mediator Sriram Panchu, was earlier granted time till August 15 by the apex court for completion of mediation after its earlier report had said that the mediators were “optimistic” about an amicable solution.
The top court had fixed the seat for the mediation process in Faizabad of Uttar Pradesh, around 7 km from Ayodhya, and said adequate arrangements, including those related to the venue of the mediation, place of stay of the mediators, their security and travel, should be arranged forthwith by the state government so that the proceedings could commence immediately.
The bench was earlier told by Hindu bodies, except the Nirmohi Akhara, and the Uttar Pradesh government that they were not in favour of the court’s suggestion for mediation. The Muslim bodies had supported the proposal.
Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla. On December 6, 1992, the Babri Masjid, constructed at the disputed site in the 16th century by Shia Muslim Mir Baqi, was demolished. (PTI)

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