Ayodhya mediation team gets 3-month extension

The court had for the first time suggested mediation as a possibility to resolve the contentious dispute in a hearing on February 26 this year. The extension means the court will now not hear the case till August 15.
The Supreme Court on Friday kept hopes of an amicable settlement of the contentious Ram Janambhoomi- Ayodhya issue alive by granting an extension of three months’ time, till August 15.(HT Photo)
The Supreme Court on Friday kept hopes of an amicable settlement of the contentious Ram Janambhoomi- Ayodhya issue alive by granting an extension of three months’ time, till August 15.(HT Photo)
Published on May 10, 2019 11:46 PM IST
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New Delhi/Lucknow | ByAshok Bagriya and Pawan Dixit

The Supreme Court on Friday kept hopes of an amicable settlement of the contentious Ram Janambhoomi- Ayodhya issue alive by granting an extension of three months’ time, till August 15, to the Justice Kalifullah-led panel of three tasked with exploring the possibility of a solution to the decades-old dispute. A five-judge bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on Friday took cognisance of the May 7 status report filed by the chairman of the mediation committee and its request for an extension till August 15 to search for an acceptable solution to the Hindu and Muslim parties.

“If the mediators are optimistic about the result and are seeking time till August 15, what is the harm in granting time? This issue has been pending for years. Why should we not grant time?” observed the bench, which comprised Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer brushing aside objections from the counsel of the Ram Janambhoomi Nyas, one of the parties to the case.

Senior advocate CS Vaidyanathan appearing for the Nyas said “the court had initially granted 8 weeks’ time to the committee, now it’s nine weeks.”

“We were against the mediation process at the every onset. The court had set a deadline of eight weeks for the mediation committee to resolve the issue. But nothing has happened,” said Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, head of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas.

The Nyas spearheads the Ram Mandir movement across the country. In 2010, appeals were filed in the Supreme Court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, which divided the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

The court had for the first time suggested mediation as a possibility to resolve the contentious dispute in a hearing on February 26 this year. The extension means the court will now not hear the case till August 15.

Trilokinath Pandey, the representative of Ram Lalla (the infant personification of the God) has also opposed the apex court’s decision. “The court is just simply killing time and delaying judgment. On the basis of outcome of the eight week’s mediation process the court should have passed a judgment on the Ayodhya issue,” said Pandey.

Pandey is not optimistic of any positive outcome from the court’s decision to extend tenure of the mediation panel till August 15.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has also opposed the court decision. “The Supreme Court’s decision will further delay justice to the Hindu community. The exercise (extension of tenure) will not serve any purpose,”

However, the Nirmohi Akhara has welcomed the court’s decision. “We are hopeful that the court’s decision will help in out- of- court settlement of the Ayodhya dispute,” said Mahant Dhinendra Das, head of the Nirmohi Akhara. A proposal by the Nirmohi Akhara to shift the venue out of Faizabad was rejected by the court.

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan, appearing for Muslim parties in the case, said, “We are willing to cooperate with the ongoing mediation.“

A three-member committee led by retired Supreme Court judge FMI Kalifullah, senior Advocate Sriram Panchu and spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, was appointed by the top court on March 8, this year to give mediation in the dispute a shot.

The judges suggested an amicable resolution while telling the parties that they were seriously “giving a chance for mediation” in an attempt to “heal relationships”. “Don’t tell us history. We have also read history. Do not tell us what we already know. We have no control over what happened in the past...we have no control over the past. We can only undo the present, which is the dispute before us,” Justice Bodbe had said during a hearing earlier this year.

In 2017, a similar offer at mediation was made by the then Chief Justice of India JS Khehar to the parties. He had said he was willing to take up the task of mediation if the parties agreed, but the idea did not take off then.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2022