A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had on March 8 referred the land dispute case for mediation by a panel headed by former apex court judge F M I Kalifulla for exploring possibility of an amicable settlement.
Nirmohi Akhara, one of the original litigants in the Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case, has requested the Supreme Court to consider moving the mediation panel proceedings from Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh to New Delhi or some other “neutral place” due to the sensitive nature of the issue. It has also said that an amicable resolution would be possible only through “direct dialogue” between the UP Sunni Wakf Board and the Nirmohi Akhara.
Besides, it has further requested that two more retired judges of the apex court be appointed to the mediation panel which is exploring the possibility of an amicable settlement of the land dispute. A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had on March 8 referred the land dispute case for mediation by a panel headed by former apex court judge F M I Kalifulla for exploring possibility of an amicable settlement.
The bench had said that spiritual guru and founder of Art of Living foundation Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu, a renowned mediator, will be the other two members of the panel of mediators and the proceedings will be held at Faizabad. In its application dated March 25, 2019, Nirmohi Akhara has said that the original parties claiming title — The Panch Ramanandi Nirmohi Akhara Ayodhya and The UP Sunni Central Waqf Board — can be encouraged to have a dialogue under the aegis of the panel of mediators without requiring them to give proposals in writing.
Further, the application said: “Due to the sensitive nature of the issue, and other local pressures, this court may consider moving out the mediation proceedings from Faizabad to New Delhi or some other neutral place where adequate and genuine security could be provided to the concerned parties and their representatives to enable them to participate in the proceedings without any threat, persuasion or hindrance.” It said Nirmohi Akhara had participated in proceedings before the mediation panel on March 13 but “the proceedings left a lot to be desired”.
The application said the proceedings before the mediation panel are scheduled for March 27-29. It also said that interest of deity Lord Ram Lalla as well as Ram Janmabhoomi “was and continued to be looked after to the best of the ability” by Nirmohi Akhara and they have not denied the right to worship to any devotee there. It said Nirmohi Akhara had welcomed the apex court’s suggestion for mediation.
“It is, however, submitted that any amicable resolution would be possible only if there is a direct dialogue between the UP Sunni Central Wakf Board and the Panch Ramanandi Nirmohi Akhara Ayodhya, who claim title to the properties, while keeping the faith and aspirations of all devotees,” the application said.
The top court in March 8 order said that the mediation process would commence within a week and the panel would submit the progress report within four weeks. It said that mediation proceedings, which would be held “in-camera”, be completed within eight weeks — the interregnum period granted earlier by the apex court to the parties in the main Ayodhya case to go through translations of oral and documentary evidences related to the case.
The court was earlier told by Hindu bodies, except for Nirmohi Akhara, and the Uttar Pradesh government that they oppose the court’s suggestion for mediation. The Muslim bodies had however supported the proposal. The top court had also directed that the mediation proceedings should be conducted with “utmost confidentiality” for ensuring its success and the views expressed by any of the parties including the mediators should be kept confidential and not be revealed to any other person.
Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
On December 6, 1992, the Babri Masjid, constructed at the disputed site in the 16th century by Shia Muslim Mir Baqi, was demolished.