Ayodhya dispute to be settled through mediation: Highlights of the SC order

Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court refers the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case in Ayodhya for mediation.

NEW DELHI: In a significant development, the Supreme Court on Friday ordered court-appointed and monitored mediation to resolve the long-pending Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case. 


Here are the top highlights of the SC order:-

-The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court refers the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case in Ayodhya for mediation. 

- The three-member mediation panel will be headed by former Supreme Court judge FM Kalifullah, with spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and, lawyer and mediation expert Sriram Panchu as other members.

- The order was passed by a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi

- The bench also comprises justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer

- The panel is expected to finish the mediation process within eight weeks, from March 15 to May 15, when the country will be gearing up for the results of the Lok Sabha elections.

- The panel will have to submit the first status report on the mediation process within four weeks.

- The mediation process will be held in Uttar Pradesh’s Faizabad district where the disputed site is located. The district was recently renamed as Ayodhya.

- The apex court said that "utmost confidentiality" should be maintained to ensure the success of mediation and neither print nor electronic media should report the proceedings.

- The bench also directed that panel of mediators can co-opt more members in the team and in case of any difficulty the chairman will inform the apex court registry about it. 

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

''We have already said that we will cooperate in the mediation. Now, whatever we have to say, we will say it to the mediation panel, not outside,'' said AIMPLB member and convener of Babri Masjid Action Committee Zafaryab Jilani.

A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had on Wednesday had reserved the order after hearing various contesting parties. Hindu bodies except Nirmohi Akhara had opposed the suggestion of the apex court to refer the issue for mediation, while Muslim bodies had supported it. 

The apex court in its Wednesday hearing had observed that primarily the issue is not about 1,500 square feet land, but about religious sentiments. The bench had said it was conscious of the gravity and impact of the issue on "public sentiment" and also on "body politics of the country". It has also said that the judges were aware of the history and was seeing that the dispute is resolved amicably as "It is not only about the property. It is about mind, heart and healing, if possible." 

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.