Ayodhya parties want talks to resume, mediation panel tells Supreme Court

Court proceedings can continue, parties suggest

September 16, 2019 09:39 am | Updated 03:42 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

The makeshift Ram temple at Ayodhya. File

The makeshift Ram temple at Ayodhya. File

The Ayodhya mediation committee on Monday filed a short memorandum informing the Supreme Court that parties across the Hindu-Muslim religious divide have approached it with a request to resume talks to amicably resolve the over 70-year-old Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute . The memorandum said the parties have suggested that the mediation could continue even as the Supreme Court continues to hear the Ayodhya dispute appeals.

A source confirmed that both the Sunni Waqf Board and the Nirvani Akhara have expressed willingness to continue with talks to amicably resolve the over 70-year-old title dispute between Hindu and Muslim factions. The parties have suggested to the mediators — former Supreme Court judge F.M.I. Kalifulla, spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu — that talks should resume from the point where it was abruptly dropped off at the last minute on July 29, due to resistance from certain blocks across the religious divide, causing heartburn among some other stakeholders. The Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, hearing the Ayodhya appeals, had announced the failure to reach a final settlement in a court hearing on August 2. Adjudication of the pending appeals, which were kept in limbo due to the mediation, commenced from August 6 . Over 20 court hearings are already over by now. The appeals have been heard on a daily basis by the five-judge Bench. The Sunni Waqf Board was arguing its case in court. The mediation effort was initiated by a Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on March 8 in a bid to heal minds and hearts. The Bench had explained that the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case was “not about the 1500 sq ft of disputed land, but about religious sentiments". The three-member mediation committee had held several rounds of talks with stakeholders in Faizabad district in Uttar Pradesh of which the disputed area in Ayodhya is a part of. The mediation proceedings were held in-camera and utmost care was taken to maintain confidentiality to ensure its success. Initially, on March 8, the court had given the mediation effort a deadline of eight weeks. However, the committee had filed an interim report dated May 7 in court saying that they are making “progress”. The court had then extended the time till August 15, saying it did not want to “short-circuit” the mediation efforts. The court had pushed for a possible out-of-court settlement despite objections raised by some parties that their faith in Lord Ram’s birthplace was “non-negotiable”. However, things took a sudden turn when an application was filed by Gopal Singh Visharad , an original claimant who had filed a title suit in 1950, through his survivor Rajendra Singh. The application claimed the committee was making no progress and asked the Bench to commence hearing the long-pending Ayodhya appeals.

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