Ayodhya Case: Supreme Court Appoints 3 Member Panel to Complete ‘Mediation’ in 8 Weeks

Supreme Court

The Apex Court 5 Judge Constitutional Bench on Friday refers the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid Title Dispute Case for court-appointed and monitored mediation for a “permanent solution”. The Top Court Appointed Retired Justice (r) Khalifulah to be the chairman of the mediator panel.

The three-member mediator panel will comprise – Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Senior Advocate Sriram Panchu – a trained mediator. The Panel will be headed by Justice (r) Khalifulah. However, the Court ruled that the three-member panel will have liberty to include more mediators or can also seek legal advice.

The Supreme Court further said that mediation will be held in Faizabad and all the proceedings should be held on-camera. The Court also directed Uttar Pradesh Government to make proper arrangements, and provide all facilities to mediators.

Supreme Court in its order also said that both the parties will maintain utmost confidentiality about the minutes meetings of the mediation. The Top Court further said that reporting of the mediation proceedings in media will be banned.

Supreme Court also directed that the mediation process has to start within four weeks and to be completed within eight weeks.

Reacting on the verdict, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said as reported by ANI, ‘I Would not question SC order. In the past, efforts made to arrive at a solution, but with no success. No LordRam devotee or saint wants a delay in construction of Ram Mandir’

All India Muslim Personal Law Board member & convener of Babri Masjid Action Committee Zafaryab Jilani reacting on the SC Verdict said ‘We have already said that we will cooperate in the mediation. Now, whatever we have to say, we will say it to the mediation panel, not outside’

Major Highlights of the Case
  • The Top Court Five-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on March 6 said Parties to suggest a name for mediator or panel for mediators.Apart from CJI, the other 4 Judges includes –  Justice SA Bobde, Justice NV Ramana, Justice UU Lalit and Justice DY Chandrachud.
  • Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha – one of the Stakeholders in the Politically motivated case of Ram Janmabhoomi – Babri Masjid Case suggested three names as mediators in Ayodhya Title dispute case. The Hindu Mahasabha proposed the names of Former Chief Justices Dipak Misra, Jagdish Singh Khehar and Former Supreme Court Judge AK Patnaik.
  • While Nirmohia Akhara also proposed names of Supreme Court Retired Judge Kurian Joseph, AK Patnaik and GS Singhvi.
  • Justice SA Bobde while starting the hearing the case on March 6 said, ‘It’s about sentiments, about religion and about faith. We are conscious of the gravity of the dispute’. Justice added that there is need of panel of mediators and not just mediator to solve the issue.
  • Muslim Stakeholders in the Case submitted before the court that they agree to go for Mediation. “Muslim petitioners are agreeable to mediation and any compromise or settlement will bind parties,” said Advocate Rajeev Dhavan who is appeared in the Court on behalf of a group of Muslim petitioners.
  • However, Advocate Vishnu Jain who appeared for Hindu Mahasabha submitted before that the mediation path cannot be taken in resolving the title dispute. He added that Its lawyer even if mediation is ordered, they will maintain the stance in front of the mediator.
  • The Apex Court had on February 26 pressed for court-monitored mediation to save time or not. Justice Bobde had said that ‘even if there is only a 1% chance of Mediation, it should be explored”
  • Earlier, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had on Jan 25 reconstituted the 5 Judge Bench and inducted a Muslim Judge S Abdul Nazir.
  • The new Bench was necessitated after Justice U U Lalit recused from the case on January 10. This was followed by Justice N V Ramana and UU Lalit withdrawing.

Background

The Allahabad High Court in 2010 verdict had divided the land between three petitioners — two favoured building a Ram Mandir at the Ayodhya site while the third wanted the Babri Masjid rebuilt.

All the stakeholders in the case moved to Top Court against the Allahabad High Court verdict.  The Supreme Court has begun hearing those appeals. The Ayodhya Dispute title case deals with who owns the Ayodhya controversial land where Babri Masjid once stood that was later demolished and where Lord Ram Believed to have been born as claimed.

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