New Delhi: The three-member mediation panel on the Ayodhya land dispute headed by Justice Ibrahim Kalifulla (Retd) has submitted its interim report in a sealed cover to the Supreme Court, which will take up the matter at a hearing on Friday.
A five-judge Constitution Bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S.A. Bobde, D.Y. Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and Abdul Nazeer had on March 8 appointed a mediation panel, which included spiritual guru and Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and mediation expert advocate Sriram Panchu, to explore the possibility of arriving at a permanent and lasting solution.
The panel was granted eight weeks to mediate the highly-sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case to facilitate an out-of-court settlement to the over seven-decade-old dispute. The panel held “in-camera” proceedings and restrained the media from printing or telecasting the mediation proceedings.
In Friday’s hearing the Bench is to decide whether the mediation efforts can continue or not, and this would depend on the panel’s report. If the panel says that the dispute could be amicably resolved through further mediation, the court is likely to give it more time to complete the process. But if the report says it is a futile exercise, the bench may proceed with hearing of the appeals on merit.
The bench is hearing a batch of 13 appeals against an Allahabad high court verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit relating to the disputed site in Ayodhya, granting two-thirds of the land to Hindus and one-third to Muslims, out of the total 2.77 acres of land.
While Hindus claimed the one-third land granted to the Muslims should be restored to them, the Muslims claims that the two-thirds land given to Hindus should be transferred to them.
The court said earlier it was resorting to mediation notwithstanding the lack of consensus between the parties in the matter for mediation.
It said considering the provisions of the Civil Procedure Code, “we do not find any legal impediment to making a reference to mediation for a possible settlement of the dispute(s) arising out of the appeals. Whether the said provisions of CPC would apply in the event parties arrive at a settlement or compromise in the mediation proceedings is a matter left open to be decided at the appropriate stage.”
On behalf of Hindus it was argued that having accepted that the disputed site was the birthplace of Lord Ram, there was no reason why one-third land was to be given to Muslims for construction of a mosque.
They wanted the entire area be granted to Hindus to facilitate the construction of a Ram Mandir. The appeal on behalf of Muslims raised several questions including whether the myth, belief or faith could be substituted by history for the purposes of application of law for the time being in force.