NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday granted additional time to the three-member mediation committee to arrive at a mutually agreeable solution to the Ayodhya land title dispute case. The panel, which submitted an interim report in a sealed cover on 7 May, will now have till 15 August to work out “an amicable solution" to the dispute.
Retired Supreme court judge Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla, the chairman of the Ayodhya land dispute mediation committee constituted by the Supreme Court, had sought an extension to find an amicable solution.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, and comprising Justices Sharad Arvind Bopde, Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and Abdul Nazeer, heard the matter on Friday.
“We have perused and considered the report of 7 May of Justice F.M.I. Kalifulla, indicating the progress made in the mediation proceeding. The chairman of the mediation committee has sought extension of time till 15 August to enable the committee to find an amicable solution," the apex court said.
Counsel for one of the parties, however, told the court that the panel of mediators had already taken nine weeks instead of the eight-week deadline awarded by the Supreme Court.
“We had given eight weeks and the report has come. We are not inclined to tell you what is there in the report of the committee," the bench responded.
“If the mediators are optimistic about the result and are seeking time till 15 August, what is the harm in granting time?" said Gogoi.
Another counsel informed the bench that wrong translation of the 13,990 pages of documents in vernacular languages could pose a problem in the future.
“Objections, if any, on the translation may be placed on record by a written note by June 30," the bench said, adding, “Nobody will come in the way of mediation."
The apex court had on 8 March constituted a panel, comprising Kalifullah, spiritual teacher Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu, for mediation in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case.
The court had directed the panel to hold in-camera mediation proceedings in Faizabad, near Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh.
The apex court had also directed that “utmost confidentiality" be maintained and barred both print and electronic media from reporting the mediation proceedings.
Fourteen appeals have so far been filed before the Supreme Court against the 2010 Allahabad high court judgement which said that the 22.7 acres in Ayodhya be equally partitioned among the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla. In light of Friday’s order, the hearings of these cases are deferred until the final report of the mediation committee is submitted.