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SC gives mediation panel time till August 15 for amicable solution on Ayodhya dispute

In a March 8 order, the Supreme Court had referred the case for mediation by a panel headed by former apex court judge FMI Kalifulla for exploring the possibility of an amicable settlement.

SNS | New Delhi |

The Supreme Court on Friday granted the three-member panel an extension of time till August 15 to find an amicable solution to the decades-old politically sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute in Ayodhya.

In a March 8 order, the Supreme Court had referred the case for mediation by a panel headed by former apex court judge FMI Kalifulla for exploring the possibility of an amicable settlement.

Spiritual guru and founder of Art of Living foundation Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu, a renowned mediator, are the other two members of the panel of mediators.

A five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court is hearing the matter.

The five-judge Constitution bench is headed by Chief justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer.

The panel was asked by the apex court to hold in-camera proceedings and complete it within eight weeks. The committee was also asked to submit the progress report within four weeks.

The Supreme Court in its order also banned the reporting of the mediation proceedings.

While some of the Muslim parties had agreed to the court’s suggestion on mediation, some Hindu bodies including the Ram Lalla Virajman opposed it, saying several such attempts have failed in the past.

The five-judge bench had earlier asked the contesting parties to explore the possibility of amicably settling the decades-old dispute through mediation, saying it may help in “healing relations”.

The suggestion for mediation was mooted by Justice Bobde, during the hearing when both the Hindu and the Muslim sides were sparring over the veracity of documents related to the case which were translated by the Uttar Pradesh government and filed with the apex court registry.

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.