A five-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi will convene on Friday to hear the Ayodhya title dispute appeals even as an apex court-appointed mediation committee has sent its interim report.
The Bench had sent the Ayodhya dispute for mediation on March 8 in a bid to heal minds and hearts.
The Supreme Court had appointed a panel of mediators, including former apex court judge, Justice F.M.I. Kalifulla, as Chairman, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Sriram Panchu, a pioneer in alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
The committee had held several rounds of mediation with stakeholders in Faizabad district in Uttar Pradesh of which the disputed area in Ayodhya is a part.
The mediation proceedings was held in-camera. Stressing the need for “utmost confidentiality” in the conduct of the mediation to ensure its success, the court had gone to the extent of opining that the media should refrain from reporting the mediation proceedings.
“We are of the further opinion that while the mediation proceedings are being carried out, there ought not to be any reporting of the said proceedings either in the print or in the electronic media,” the March 8 court order had said.
The time given for mediation was eight weeks, but the court had urged the mediators to “conclude at the earliest”. Sources, however, said the mediation committee’s report was interim in nature.
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 apex court.
In fact, the court had invoked Section 89 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) to propose mediation as an “effective utilisation of time” during the interregnum.
The CJI had at the time 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 is “non-negotiable”.
The Bench had 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”.