If mediation panel fails, day-to-day hearing from July 25 on Ayodhya land dispute: Indian SC

NEW DELHI (The Statesman/ANN) - On May 10, the Supreme Court granted the three-member panel an extension of time till August 15 to find an amicable solution to the politically sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute in Ayodhya.

The Supreme Court, hearing the Ayodhya land dispute case, on Thursday said that day-to-day hearing will begin from July 25 if the mediation panel fails to submit a report by next week.

The apex court has sought a status report from the mediation panel by next week and said that it will hear the matter from July 25 if the committee feels that has no more role in it.

“We have set up a mediation panel. We will have to wait for a report. Let the mediators submit a report on this,” the Supreme Court bench led by CJI Ranjan Gogoi said.

The court was hearing an application filed by one of the parties representing the Hindu community.

The application was moved on Tuesday by Gopal Singh Visharad to list the dispute for adjudication saying there had been no progress in the mediation process.

The counsels representing the Hindu parties contended that the dispute had been pending for 69 years and the nature of mediation deployed to resolve the row did not appear to be heading in a positive direction.

“Eleven joint sessions have been held, but it seems inconclusive… Difficult to sort out through mediation,” contended the counsel.

However, Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, representing one of the Muslim litigants, said the application was an attempt to scrap the mediation process and the counsels of Hindu parties were not fair in criticizing the methodology of the committee set up to resolve the Ayodhya row.

On May 10, the Supreme Court granted the three-member panel an extension of time till August 15 to find an amicable solution to the decades-old politically sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute in Ayodhya.

In a March 8 order, the Supreme Court had referred the case for mediation by a panel headed by former apex court judge FMI Kalifulla for exploring the possibility of an amicable settlement.

Spiritual guru and founder of Art of Living Foundation, Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu, a renowned mediator, are the other two members of the panel of mediators.

The panel was then asked by the apex court to hold in-camera proceedings and complete it within eight weeks. The committee was also asked to submit the progress report within four weeks.

While some of the Muslim parties had agreed to the court’s suggestion on mediation, some Hindu bodies including the Ram Lalla Virajman opposed it, saying several such attempts have failed in the past.

The five-judge bench had earlier asked the contesting parties to explore the possibility of amicably settling the decades-old dispute through mediation, saying it may help in “healing relations”.

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.

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