Agencies, New Delhi
The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the mediation panel, headed by Justice (retd) FMI Khalifulla, to submit a progress report by July 18 on its efforts to resolve the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit which for centuries has led to friction in the secular fabric of India.
After a protracted hearing, nationwide riots, murder and mayhem, Allahabad High Court, in 2010, had decreed the division and transfer of title in three equal parts of the 2.77 acres of the disputed land to three principal claimants, one to the minorities, another to the majority community and the rest to the Nirmohi Akhara sect. A year later, the apex court stayed the verdict.
A five-judge constitution bench, headed Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, said that it would commence hearing of the case from July 25 if the meditation panel expresses its inability to resolve the dispute.
The parties on the majority side submitted that the mediation should be stopped as there was no progress to resolve the dispute.
However, the minority community side submitted that meditation was making headway.
The apex court ruled , “We deem it proper to request Justice (retired) FM Ibrahim Kalifulla to inform this Court the progress of mediation till date.”
While it refused to pass any order on scrapping the mediation proceedings, the Supreme Court said it will come to a conclusion after perusing the report filed by the mediation panel by July 18, Thursday.
”We also make it clear that if this Court comes to a conclusion that, having regard to the report of Justice (Retd) Kalifulla, the mediation proceedings should be ordered to be concluded, it will do so.”
The constitution bench also said that commencement of the hearing of the appeals before it, tentatively, on and from 25th July, 2019, which, if required, will be conducted on day-to-day basis.
Mr K Parasaran, senior lawyer appearing for one of the plaintiffs, Gopal Visharad, submitted that his Ayodhya suit was filed in 1950, before even the Constitution came into existence. Mediation, he contended, was not working and it was difficult to arrive at a settlement. He pleaded that the Supreme Court should authoritatively dispose of the appeals.
CJI Gogoi said,” We will want a status report from the Ayodhya mediation committee. We have constituted the committee, we are entitled to know what is happening in the case.”
Dr Rajeev Dhawan, senior counsel appearing for one of the parties of the minority community, contended that very serious mediation proceedings were in progress. He averred, ”Unhappy parties want to scrap the mediation and intimidate us. The mediation panel should continue their work and it is good for us that an amicable settlement will be made out in the very sensitive case.”
In 1528, one of Mughal Emperor Babur’s generals Mir Baqi, was believed to have demolished a temple at the birthplace of Lord Ram and constructed a mosque at the disputed site, naming it ‘Babri Masjid’.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad, in the 1980s, launched a new movement to ‘reclaim’ the site for the majority community and to erect a Temple dedicated to Ram Lala at the spot.