Efforts to mediate a final settlement between rival Hindu and Muslim parties in the Ayodhya title dispute cases had failed, a Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi said on Friday. Now the court will commence hearing the appeals from August 6 on a day to day basis.
The Bench said the appeals of Nirmohi Akhara and deity Ram Lalla would be heard first.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, for the Muslim parties, objected. He asked why the Bench chose to hear these two parties first. He said some of the Muslim parties had filed first.
But the court did not relent. Mr. Dhavan then submitted that he would need 20 full days to argue his case and his submissions should not be curtailed.
“We will see about it... Let us start hearing the appeals,” Chief Justice Gogoi replied.
On July 18, the Bench asked the mediation committee led by former Supreme Court judge F.M.I. Kalifulla to submit a report on the outcome of mediation proceedings held between July 31 and August 1 with Hindu and Muslim parties to amicably resolve the over 70-year-old Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title spat.
Application against mediation
Questions about the efficacy of the mediation process came under the spotlight after an application was filed by Gopal Singh Visharad, an original claimant to the disputed land who filed a title suit way back in 1950, through his survivor Rajendra Singh, on July 9, claiming that the Justice Kalifulla committee was making no progress. The application urged the court to stop mediation and start adjudication on the pending Ayodhya appeals.
On March 8, the Bench initially sent the dispute for mediation. At that time, it expressed the hope that mediation would spell a peaceful end to the volatile dispute between the members of the two religious faiths. It explained that the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case “is not about the 1500 sq. ft. of disputed land, but about religious sentiments. We know its impact on public sentiment, on body politic. We are looking at minds, hearts and healing, if possible.”
During the Friday hearing, an application filed by M. Siddiq, through his legal heirs, which pointed out several “discrepancies” in the translations done by the Uttar Pradesh government of the case records, also came up.
The application, filed on July 15, claimed there were “glaring errors” and illustrated a few examples of them. It said verification of the translations was a Herculean task. “The testimonies alone run into 54 volumes consisting of 13,426 pages, which have been translated into English and filed by the Uttar Pradesh government. There are a total 533 exhibits translated by various parties,” it said.
“But let the hearing in appeals start...” Chief Justice Gogoi said, making it plain that the court would brook no further delay in the adjudication of the appeals pending for nearly a decade in the court.