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Supreme Court pitches for mediation in Ayodhya case

‘Give it a try even if there is only 1% chance of success’

A five-judge Constitution Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, has proposed a court-monitored mediation process between the Hindu and Muslim parties litigating the Ayodhya dispute, asserting that both sides ought to give it a try even if there was only a “1% chance of success.”

Adopting a two-pronged approach, the Bench on Tuesday pitched the healing touch that an out-of-court settlement could provide, even as it went ahead with the preparations to finally hear the Ayodhya title suit appeals that have been pending in the court for almost nine years. Justice S.A. Bobde explained that the mediation, if undertaken, would be confidential and court-monitored and would last eight weeks.

Observing that the dispute was “much more” than a mere property dispute and had dragged on for decades, the Bench said mediation might result in a permanent resolution.

The eight-week period is also 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 appeals.

Effective use of time

A shot at mediation under Section 89 of the Civil Procedure Code would hence be an “effective utilisation of time” during the interregnum, Chief Justice Gogoi observed. The court, however, deferred a decision on referring the dispute for ‘mediation’ to March 5. “We will pass orders then,” Justice Gogoi observed.

The CJI also expressed the hope that mediation may help give a peaceful end to the volatile dispute between two faiths over the land where the Babri Masjid had once stood before it was demolished by kar sevaks on December 6, 1992.

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