Ayodhya-Babri Dispute : SC Asks Mediation Panel To Submit Final Report By July 31; Next Hearing On Aug 2

Ayodhya-Babri Dispute : SC Asks Mediation Panel To Submit Final Report By July 31; Next Hearing On Aug 2

The Supreme Court on Thursday called for a final report from the mediation panel in the Ayodhya-Babri Masjid title dispute case by July 31. The Court indicated that it might start hearing the appeals from August 2.

"We now fix the date of hearing on August 2nd. We request the mediation committee to inform the outcome of the proceedings as of July 31", the CJI said.

Last week, while considering an application for early hearing of appeals in the Ayodhya-Babri Masjid title dispute case, the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court had called for a status report from the mediation panel headed by former SC judge Justice Khalifulla regarding the progress.

The CJI-led bench had said on July 11 that if the panel expresses its inability to resolve the dispute related to 2.77 acres of land through mediation, the Court will start hearing the appeals on a day to day basis from July 25.

Senior Advocate K Parasaran, appearing for the applicant in the early hearing petition Gopal Singh Visharad, submitted that despite several joint sessions, no progress has taken place in mediation. It is difficult to reach a settlement in a dispute of this nature, which affects beliefs and sentiments of several devotees, said Parasaran. Therefore it is better to authoritatively dispose of the dispute through adjudication, he suggested.

Opposing this, Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan, representing Muslim groups in the case, submitted "just because one party has become fed up should not stop the process. They are saying scrap the mediation. This is against order dated May 10".

It may be recalled that on May 10, the SC had extended the time till August 15 to complete the mediation.

On March 8, the CJI-led Constitution Bench had referred the matter to mediation by a panel of former SC judge Justice F M Kalifulla, 'Art of Living' founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Senior Advocate and acclaimed mediator Sriram Panchu. The mediation was directed to be held at Faizabad in UP, where the site of dispute is located.

The reference to mediation was made in a bunch of appeals against the 2010 verdict of Allahabad High Court which ruled that the 2.77 acres of Ayodhya land be divided into 3 parts, with 1/3 going to the Ram Lalla or Infant Rama represented by the Hindu Maha Sabha for the construction of the Ram temple, 1/3 going to the Islamic Sunni Waqf Board and the remaining 1/3 going to a Hindu religious denomination Nirmohi Akhara.

By a 2:1 majority, the HC bench of Justices S.U. Khan, Sudhir Agarwal and D.V. Sharma held that the portion under the central dome of the demolished three-dome structure where the idol of Ram Lalla had been kept in a makeshift temple was the birthplace of Lord Rama "as per faith and belief of the Hindus."

In his dissenting judgment, Justice Sharma categorically stated that "the disputed site is the birthplace of Lord Ram" and held that Hindus had exclusive rights over the disputed site.

In the proceedings before SC, the Hindu groups had opposed the reference to mediation. They submitted that the matter was not a mere property dispute, but was concerning faith and sentiments.

On the other hand, Muslim groups expressed their willingness to participate in mediation.