The senior lawyer said that "nothing much has been happening" in the land dispute which was referred to the three-member panel. "Have you filed an application for early hearing?" the bench asked.
One of the original litigants in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute in Ayodhya Tuesday moved the Supreme Court seeking early hearing of the matter. The litigant said that nothing much has been happening in the case which was referred to a three-member panel of mediators, headed by former apex court judge Justice F M I Kalifulla, to explore an amicable solution.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was told by senior advocate P S Narsimha, appearing for litigant Gopal Singh Visharad, that the title dispute needed to be listed for urgent hearing before the court. The senior lawyer said that “nothing much has been happening” in the land dispute which was referred to the three-member panel. “Have you filed an application for early hearing?” the bench asked. The counsel replied in the affirmative.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by the CJI had in May extended till August 15 the time for the panel of mediators for completing mediation proceedings, saying that the panel had submitted that it was “optimistic” about an amicable solution. “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 and years. Why should we not grant time,” the bench had told the counsel appearing for the parties concerned. Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer were part of the bench.
The apex court had on March 8 referred the matter to the panel of mediators for exploring possibility of an amicable settlement and appointed Justice (retd) Kalifulla, spiritual guru and founder of Art of Living Foundation Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate and renowned mediator Sriram Panchu as members of the mediation committee. In its March 8 order, the top court had asked the panel of mediators to hold in-camera proceedings and complete them within eight weeks.
The top court had fixed the seat for mediation process in Faizabad of Uttar Pradesh, around seven km from Ayodhya, and said adequate arrangements including the venue of the mediation, place of stay of the mediators, their security, travel should be forthwith arranged by the state government so that proceedings could commence immediately.
The bench was told earlier 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 supported the proposal. 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.