Supreme Court seeks report on Ayodhya talks, considers daily hearing
A Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi called for a report on the progress made in mediation by the three-member panel headed by retired SC judge FMI Kalifulla.Updated: Jul 11, 2019 23:44 IST
Day-to-day hearings on the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case may commence as early as on July 25 if the Supreme Court concludes that the mediation it ordered in March in search of an amicable settlement hasn’t made adequate headway, the apex court said on Thursday.
A Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi called for a report on the progress made in mediation by the three-member panel headed by retired SC judge FMI Kalifulla. The bench said it would peruse the report in open court on July 18 before it takes a call on final hearings of the matter.
“We make it clear that if this court comes to a conclusion that, having regard to the report of justice FMI Kalifulla, the mediation proceedings should be ordered to be concluded, the court will do so and order for commencement of the hearing of the appeals before it, tentatively, on and from July 25, which hearings, if required, will be conducted on day-to-day basis,” said the bench.
Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and Abdul Nazeer are the other members of the Constitution Bench.
The ruling came on an application filed by Rajendra Singh, son of Gopal Singh Visharad — one of the plaintiffs in the original suit filed in 1950 — who asked the court to resume hearings of the title suit, saying there had not been “much progress” in the mediation ordered by the court.
The top court is seized of a batch of appeals against the Allahabad high court’s September 30, 2010, verdict that ordered the 2.77-acre disputed land in Ayodhya to be divided equally among three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board; the Nirmohi Akhara, a Hindu religious denomination; and an organisation that represents the infant deity Ram Lalla.
Hindus claim that the site marks the birthplace of Lord Ram and that a mosque had been built on the ruins of a Ram temple that was razed by 16th century Mughal ruler Babar. The mosque was razed on December 6, 1992, by a Hindu mob.
The top court on March 8 ordered the mediation to seek an amicable resolution of the politically and religiously sensitive land dispute. The panel, also comprising Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and a pioneer in the alternative dispute redressal mechanism, and senior advocate Sriram Panchu of the Madras high court, was asked to explore a settlement within eight weeks.
It was an interim measure ordered by the court, which fixed a similar deadline for all parties to the dispute to complete their paper work in the case.
An extension to the panel was permitted on May 10 after the mediation committee asked for it. On that day, the bench once again reiterated that the parties must intimate in writing their stand on the accuracy and correctness of the translations of documents in the case.
In its order on Thursday, the bench noted that the parties to the dispute have not laid out their stand on the accuracy of the documents until date.
“The fact that mediation was suggested by this court during the period of time, which was otherwise required to make cases ready for hearing, we deem it proper to request justice FMI Kalifulla to inform this court the progress of mediation till date and the stage at which the said process is presently at,” the court said.
Appearing for the applicant, senior advocate K Parasaran said a dispute of this nature is difficult to settle. Counsel for other parties on the Hindu side supported Singh’s plea. Even the counsel for NIrmohi Akhara, which had earlier supported mediation, preferred the commencement of hearings.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for one of the Muslim parties, countered the claims. He said the mediation was proceeding as the court had desired and it should not be concludedprematurely. He asked the other side if mediation was an attempt to intimidate.