The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Parsi community to resolve a dispute relating to performing prayers or religious ceremonies at Doongerwadi (the Towers of Silence) in Mumbai and at two Agiaries (Fire Temples) which are vested in a Trust, through mediation.

Giving this suggestion, a Bench of Justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra, during the course of hearing of an appeal against a Bombay High Court judgment, said: “Parsis are a tiny community in India, but they have made an outstanding contribution to the country in various walks of life, and the whole nation is proud of them. We are, therefore, sad to notice some disputes between them inter se, as in this case.

“Prima facie, we have suggested to senior counsel that an attempt should be made to resolve the disputes by mediation, and for this purpose senior counsel stated that they would like to seek instructions. If counsel for the parties agree to a particular mediator or mediators, they can inform us the name of that person or persons, or if they leave it to us, we may appoint some neutral and expert mediator or mediators in the matter.”

The court said: “We make it clear that a mediator cannot decide any dispute [unlike an arbitrator] but he can only help the parties to come to a compromise by his expertise. If the mediation fails, then, of course, the matter will come back to the court for adjudication but, in our opinion, this is a matter where first an attempt should be made to resolve the dispute by mediation.”

The Bench directed the matter to be listed for further hearing on April 18, “when counsel for the parties would inform the court whether they had agreed on the mediator/mediators or whether they had agreed to leave it to the court to appoint a mediator.” It said that till then, the status quo order passed by the High Court would continue.

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