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Supreme Court orders mediation to settle Ayodhya land dispute, appoints 3-member panel

A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had on Wednesday reserved the order after hearing various contesting parties.

Supreme Court orders mediation to settle Ayodhya land dispute, appoints 3-member panel

New Delhi: The Supreme Court's Constitution Bench on Friday referred the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case for a court-appointed and monitored mediation to find a 'permanent solution'.

Justice Khalifullah (Retd) will be heading the mediation proceedings while the other two members will be - Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Shriram Panchu.

The mediation process will be held in Faizabad.

 

The top court also said that the mediation proceedings should be held on-camera. "Court monitored mediation proceedings will be confidential," Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said.

It will begin within a week and is meant to be completed in eight weeks. The first status report on mediation is supposed to be given within four weeks.

 In its order, the Supreme Court said, ''Mediators can co-opt more on the panel if necessary. Uttar Pradesh government will provide mediators all the facilities in Faizabad. Mediators can seek further legal assistance as and when required.''

Reacting to SC order, Swami Chakrapani, president of All Hindu Mahasabha, said, "We accept the Supreme Court order. We are happy with it. We are glad that Sri Sri Ravishankar is part of the mediation panel. I am sure that everything will go well."

Varun Kumar Sinha, advocate for Hindu Mahasabha, said, "Our past experience with mediation has not been good. I hope the apex court has taken this into consideration."

A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by CJI Gogoi had on Wednesday reserved the order after hearing various contesting parties.

Hindu bodies except Nirmohi Akhara have opposed the suggestion of the Supreme Court to refer the issue for mediation, while Muslim bodies have supported it.

The Constitution Bench, also comprising Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer, concluded the hearing by asking stakeholders to give the names of possible mediators. 

Hindu bodies like Nirmohi Akhara suggested the names of Justices (retd) Kurian Joseph, AK Patnaik and GS Singhvi as mediators, while the Hindu Mahasabha faction of Swami Chakrapani proposed the names of former CJIs Justices JS Khehar and Dipak Misra, and Justice (retd) AK Patnaik to the bench.

Supreme Court also restrained media from reporting proceedings of mediation in Ayodhya case. It has directed in-camera proceedings of mediation in Ayodhya case. 

Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court 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.