New Delhi: The Supreme Court constituted three-member mediation committee, tasked with exploring the possibility of an amicable settlement in the decades-old, politically sensitive, Ayodhya's Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case, has submitted its interim report in a sealed cover.
Sources aware of the development said the interim report was filed with the apex court Registry on May 6, and the matter has been listed for hearing on Friday.
The apex court on March 8 had referred the matter to mediation for exploring the possibility of an amicable settlement. It had appointed former apex court judge F M I Kalifulla, spiritual guru and founder of Art of Living foundation Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu, a renowned mediator, as members of the mediation committee.
A five-judge Constitution bench comprising Chief justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer will now peruse the report and decide the future course of action. The matter will come up for the first time on Friday since the March 8 order of the top court.
It had said that the mediation process would commence within a week and the panel would submit the progress report within four weeks. The panel was asked by the apex court to hold in-camera proceedings and complete them within eight weeks.
The Constitution bench had said that it does not find any "legal impediment" to make a reference to mediation for a possible settlement of the dispute. 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 supported the proposal.
While opposing the suggestion of mediation, Hindu bodies had argued that earlier attempts of reaching a compromise have failed and provisions of Civil Procedure Code (CPC) require public notice to be issued before the start of process.
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 and not be revealed to any other person.
However, it had refrained from passing any specific restrain order at this stage and instead empowered the mediators to pass necessary orders in writing, if so required, to restrain publication of the details of the mediation proceedings.
The top court had fixed the seat for mediation process in Faizabad of Uttar Pradesh, around 7 km from Ayodhya, and said that the 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.
It had also directed that the mediation proceedings be held in-camera as per the norms applicable to conduct the mediation proceedings.
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.
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