New Delhi: The Supreme Court said on Friday that mediation proceedings had failed to amicably resolve the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute in Ayodhya, and ordered day-to-day hearings of the politically sensitive case from August 6.
The long-awaited hearing on the possession of the disputed site at Ayodhya will begin from August 6 as Justice Fakir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalif-ulla, a former Supreme Court judge, told the court in his “outcome” report that the 146-day-long mediation process with the parties to the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute did not result in any settlement.
Noting that the “mediation proceedings have not led to any final settlement”, a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi ordered day-to-day hearings from August 6 on a batch of 13 cross-petitions challenging the September 30, 2010 order of the Allahabad high court. The bench also included Justices S.A. Bobde, D.Y. Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S.A. Nazeer.
The high court by its September 30, 2010, order had given two parts of the disputed site of 2.77 acres to the temple’s proponents — the deity of Ram Lalla and the Nirmohi Akhara, a Hindu sect — and one to the Sunni Waqf Board.
The court said the hearing on the appeals against the high court order will start with the appeals on the suit filed by the deity of Ram Lalla and Nirmohi Akhara.
Senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for the lead petitioner M. Siddiq represented by his legal heirs, noted that Suit No. 4 by the Sunni Waqf Board was not being taken up for hearing and this would deprive them from making rejoinder arguments.
Mr Dhavan told the court that initially when this matter was being taken up for hearing he had sought 20 full days to advance his arguments and urged the court there should be no “curtailment” of arguments.
Chief Justice Gogoi said all the points being flagged by Mr Dhavan would be seen in the course of the hearing. “We will see about it” in the course of the hearing, said CJI Gogoi.
Justice Fakir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla headed the three-member mediation committee, also comprising religious preacher Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior lawyer and well-known mediator Shriram Panchu, had submitted the report on the mediation “outcome” on Thursday.
The court had at the last hearing on July 18 asked the mediation panel to inform it of the “the outcome of mediation proceedings as on 31.7.2019” to enable the court to proceed further in the matter.
There were ample hints that mediation wasn’t heading towards the desired objective of an amicable settlement as the Supreme court by its July 18 order, referring to the report on the “progress” and “stage” of the mediation process, said: “Taking into account what has been brought to our notice by the said report, we now fix the hearing of the cases on and from 2.8.2019.”