Ayodhya dispute: SC extends time till August 15 to complete mediation process

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New Delhi | Published: May 11, 2019 4:20:59 AM

The Supreme Court on Friday gave further time till August 15 to the special mediation panel to come with an amicable solution in the politically sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case.

The SC also fixed the seat for mediation process in Faizabad of Uttar Pradesh, around seven km from Ayodhya.

The Supreme Court on Friday gave further time till August 15 to the special mediation panel to come with an amicable solution in the politically sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case.

“The panel wants more time, which we are inclined to give,” a five-member Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said in a hearing that lasted for over five minutes.

He further said that “the mediation panel is optimistic” and the bench is not going to tell “what progress has been made…that’s confidential.”

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In the previous hearing on March 8, the top court had referred the decades-old dispute for mediation and set up the panel, headed by former Supreme Court judge FMI Kalifulla and also comprising spritual guru and founder of Art of Living foundation Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu. The panel has been tasked by the court to hold consultations to explore the possibility of an amicable settlement.

The dispute in Ayodhya is over 2.7 acre of land on which the 16th-century Babri mosque stood before it was demolished on December 6, 1992 by Hindu right wing activists who believe it was built on the ruins of an ancient temple marking the birthplace of Lord Ram. In 2010, the Allahabad High Court had allotted two-thirds of the land equally among the three parties to the temple-mosque dispute — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla (infant Ram). As many as 14 appeals have been filed against the judgment, both by Hindu and Muslim organisations. The apex court in 2011 stayed the HC order.

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The top court had 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. “We are of the further opinion that while the mediation proceedings are being carried out, there ought not to be any reporting of the said proceedings either in the print or in the electronic media,” it said, while leaving it to the mediators to pass any such restraint orders on publication of the details of the mediation proceedings.

It also directed that the mediation proceedings be held in-camera and to be completed within eight weeks.

The SC also fixed the seat for mediation process in Faizabad of Uttar Pradesh, around seven km from Ayodhya.

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