(Mint file)
(Mint file)

SC allows mediation process to continue in Ayodhya land row case

  • SC has asked the three-member panel to submit a status report on the mediation proceedings by 1 August
  • The bench sought a report from the mediation panel on 31 July

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed the three-member mediation committee, tasked with resolving the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute, to continue working for a mutually agreeable settlement.

The five-judge Constitution bench, presided by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, asked the panel, headed by former Supreme Court judge, Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Khalifula, to submit a status report on the outcome of the mediation proceedings by 1 August. The bench, also comprising Justices S.A. Bobde, D.Y. Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S.A. Nazeer, will next hear the matter on 2 August.

On 11 July, the apex court had sought a report on the mediation process and said that day-to-day hearings might begin from 25 July if the court decides to conclude the mediation proceeding.

On Thursday, the bench declined to disclose the contents of the mediation report submitted by the mediation panel, reiterating its previous stand that confidentiality has to be maintained.

On 8 March, the apex court had constituted the panel, also comprising spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu, to mediate in the land title dispute. The court had directed that the in-camera mediation proceedings should be held in Faizabad, adjoining Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh. To ensure the success of the mediation process, 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 against the 2010 Allahabad high court judgement, which said that the 22.7 acres in Ayodhya should be equally divided among the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla. In light of Thursday’s order, hearing of all the cases stand 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. The Muslim bodies had supported the proposal.

On 6 December 1992, the Babri Masjid, constructed at the disputed site in the 16th century by Shia Muslim Mir Baqi, was demolished.