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Ayodhya: SC to hear plea saying mediation proceedings not moving

A view of the Supreme Court of India building in New Delhi. File

A view of the Supreme Court of India building in New Delhi. File  

The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to examine a plea of a claimant to the disputed Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land that the mediation proceedings triggered by the court to heal hearts and minds is making no headway.

In an urgent mentioning before a Bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi, the claimant asked the court to instead list the Ayodhya appeals for hearing “at the earliest”. 

The application was made by Rajendra Singh, survivor of Gopal Singh Visharad who first approached the court in 1950 for a declaration that “he is entitled to offer worship without any obstruction according to the rites and tenets of his religion at the birthplace of Lord Shri Ram Chandra”. Visharad had also sought a “permanent prohibitory injunction against the removal of the idols of Lord Ram situated at the place of birth”.

Appearing for him, senior advocate P.S. Narasimha claimed that “not much progress” had been made in the mediation proceedings conducted by an apex court-appointed panel of mediators, including former top court judge, Justice F.M.I. Kalifulla, as Chairman; spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu, a pioneer in alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in the country.

“Despite initial reluctance in the process of mediation, the applicant herein wholeheartedly participated in the mediation proceedings conducted by the three eminent persons appointed by the court. However, in the three meetings participated during a period of five months, neither any concrete proposal has come from anyone nor any headway is likely to be made in the process of mediation,” the application said.

The CJI has asked him to file his application, signalling the court would examine the plea.

A five-judge Bench led by CJI Gogoi, on May 10, granted the mediation committee time till August 15 to continue with its efforts to resolve the prolonged and strife-ridden Ayodhya title dispute.

The Ayodhya mediation committee had filed an interim report dated May 7 with the Constitution Bench. 

The Bench had sent the Ayodhya dispute for mediation on March 8 in a bid to heal minds and hearts. It had given the panel an initial deadline of eight weeks.

Eight weeks time

The eight weeks was the time given to the Muslim parties to examine the accuracy and relevance of the Uttar Pradesh government's official translation of thousands of pages of oral depositions and exhibits in the Ayodhya title suit appeals pending since 2010 in the court. 

The committee had held several rounds of mediation with the stakeholders in Faizabad district, of which the disputed area in Ayodhya is a part of.

The CJI had expressed the hope that mediation may spell a peaceful end to the volatile dispute between the members of the two religious faiths. The court had pushed for a possible out of court settlement despite objections raised by some Hindu parties that their faith in Lord Ram’s birthplace was “non-negotiable”.

The Bench had explained that the 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".

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2020 10:11:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/ayodhya-title-dispute-litigant-asks-supreme-court-to-list-case-at-the-earliest/article28328668.ece

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