New Delhi: The Ayodhya mediation panel submitted its second status report to the Supreme Court on Thursday in a sealed envelope, likely taking rival claimants to the disputed place of worship a step closer to a negotiated settlement.
A constitutional bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justices S.A. Bopde, D.Y. Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer, will hear the Ayodhya land dispute case on Friday. The special bench is likely to decide on whether the contentious politico-religious case requires a day-to-day hearing.
On 18 July, former Supreme Court judge FM Ibrahim Kalifulla, who is also the chairperson of the three-member mediation panel, had submitted a status report in a sealed envelope to the court. The apex court has declined to disclose the contents, reiterating its previous stand that confidentiality in this specific case has to be maintained. On reviewing the report, the bench asked the mediation committee to continue working towards a settlement in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute.
The five-judge constitutional bench had also asked the panel to submit a second status report on the outcome of the mediation proceedings by 2 August.
The apex court on 11 July had sought a status report and said it might begin day-to-day hearing from 25 July. This may kick in on Friday if the constitutional bench is not satisfied with the status report.
The mediation panel was set up by the Supreme Court on 8 March. The two other members on the panel are spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu. The court had directed that the proceedings should be held in camera and in Faizabad, a town adjoining Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh. To give the process a chance of success, the apex court had also directed that “utmost confidentiality" be maintained and barred both print and electronic media from reporting on the proceedings.
Fourteen appeals have been filed before the Supreme Court so far against the 2010 Allahabad high court judgement, which said that the disputed 22.7 acres should be equally divided among the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla. In light of the 18 July order, hearing of all the cases stands deferred till the final report of the mediation committee is submitted.
The Supreme Court bench was earlier told by Hindu bodies, barring the Nirmohi Akhara, and the Uttar Pradesh government, that they were not in favour of mediation. Muslim bodies had supported the proposal.
On 6 December 1992, Babri Masjid, a 16th century mosque, was demolished by Hindu groups who want a Ram temple built at the site.