The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday asked the three-member Ayodhya land title dispute mediation panel, led by Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla, to submit a progress report to the court by July 18. If the mediation panel report submitted on that day suggests that the dispute could not be solved amicably, the court would begin daily hearing on the issue from July 25, a three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, said.
The top court’s orders came on a plea by the legal heirs of one of the original litigants, Gopal Singh Visharad, claiming that the mediation by the three-member panel was heading nowhere. The litigant had sought the court’s hearing on the issue as he claimed his case has been pending for more than 69 years.
On March 8, a five-member Bench of the SC had decided to send the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land title dispute for mediation by a three-member team led by Justice Kalifulla. The other two members of the panel are spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Chennai-based senior advocate Sriram Panchu. A total time of eight weeks had been granted to the three-member panel for completion of the mediation proceedings. The first report had to be submitted by April 8, the court had then said.
The court had also then said that while it was conscious of the gravity of the land dispute and its outcome on the country, not giving mediation a chance would be wrong. “It is not only about property. It is about the mind, heart and healing, if possible,” the five-judge Bench had then said.
On May 10, the top court had extended the time for completion of the mediation proceedings till August 15 and said the panel of mediators was ‘optimistic’ about an amicable solution.
While most Hindu religious bodies, except the Nirmohi Akhara, have opposed the suggestion to go for mediation, Muslim religious bodies have supported the idea.
The SC is also hearing a challenge against a 2010 judgment of the Allahabad High Court (HC) related to the land title dispute. Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad HC judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara, and Ram Lalla.