Ayodhya: SC seeks report from mediation panel by July 18

New Delhi [India]: The Supreme Court on Thursday requested Justice (Retd) FMI Kalifulla, the chairperson of the three-member mediation panel on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute, to submit a report by July 18.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi observed that it will be “convenient” to have the report by July 18, on which date further orders will be passed by it.

If the court comes to the conclusion that having regard to the report of Justice Kalifulla, the mediation proceedings should be ordered to be concluded, the court will do so, the bench said.

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The court also said that the order for the commencement of the hearing of the appeals before it, tentatively, on and from July 25 if required, will be conducted on a day-to-day basis.

The order came on an application for early hearing filed by Rajendra Singh, son of one of the original plaintiffs — Gopal Singh Visharad, saying no progress has been made in the mediation ordered by the apex court to find an amicable settlement to the land dispute.

During today’s proceedings, K Parasaran, senior lawyer for the applicant, argued that the mediation process is unlikely to yield any positive result.

“Since mediation is unlikely to bring any positive result, the court should give a date for a hearing in the case,” Parasaran submitted.

However, the counsel for the Muslim parties contested the stand of the petitioner.

Senior lawyer, Dr Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for one of the Muslim parties, said, “This is not the time to criticise the mediation committee.”

The court had on March 8 constituted the panel, chaired by former Supreme Court judge Kalifulla, to explore the possibility of an amicable settlement to the land dispute.

The panel also comprised Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior Madras High Court advocate Sriram Panchu.

On May 10, the court had given time till August 15 to the panel to find a solution to the dispute.

Fourteen appeals are pending before the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict which said the 2.77-acre disputed land in Ayodhya be equally divided among the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara, and Ram Lalla.

The 16th-century Babri Masjid was demolished on December 6, 1992.

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