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Babri Masjid land dispute: SC allows mediation process to continue, seeks outcome report by Aug 1

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New Delhi: The mediation process to amicably resolve the politically sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute at Ayodhya will continue as the Supreme Court Thursday sought from the panel concerned its “outcome” report by August 1.
The outcome of the mediation process undertaken by the three-member panel, headed by former apex court judge F M I Kalifulla following the March 8 order, would be considered by a five judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on August 2 to decide the future course of action.
“We request the mediation panel to inform the court the outcome of the mediation proceedings as on July 31 by August 1 to enable us to proceed further in the matter in terms of the present directions,” said the bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer.
The bench, which perused a report about the progress of mediation process till July 18, said that its contents will remain confidential as per its earlier order.
“However, taking into account what has been brought to our notice by the said report, we now fix the hearing of the cases on and from July 2. The bench will assemble again on the said date that is August 2 at 2.00 pm. Office to make the cases ready for hearing,” the bench said.
It also took on record a fresh application filed by the legal heir of M Sidiq, one of the original Muslim litigants, seeking permission to point out discrepancies in the translations, if any, at the time of referring the relevant document during the final arguments of the matter.
“The application is taken on record and liberty as prayed for is granted. The application accordingly stands disposed of,” it ordered.
The apex court had on July 11 sought a report on the mediation process and said that a day-to-day hearing might commence from July 25 if the court decides to conclude the mediation proceedings.
It had requested Justice Kalifulla to apprise it by July 18 of the progress of mediation till date and its present stage.
It had passed the order while hearing an application filed by a legal heir of one of the original litigants, Gopal Singh Visharad, seeking a judicial decision on the dispute and conclusion of the mediation process, alleging that not much was happening there.
The panel, also comprising spiritual guru and founder of the Art of Living foundation Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate and renowned mediator Sriram Panchu, was earlier granted time till August 15 by the apex court for completion of mediation after its earlier report had said that the mediators were “optimistic” about an amicable solution.
The top court had fixed the seat for the mediation process in Faizabad of Uttar Pradesh, around 7 km from Ayodhya, and said adequate arrangements, including those related to the venue of the mediation, place of stay of the mediators, their security and travel, should be arranged forthwith by the state government so that the proceedings could commence immediately.
The bench was earlier told by Hindu bodies, except the Nirmohi Akhara, and the Uttar Pradesh government that they were not in favour of the court’s suggestion for mediation. The Muslim bodies had supported the proposal.
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.
On December 6, 1992, the Babri Masjid, constructed at the disputed site in the 16th century by Shia Muslim Mir Baqi, was demolished. (PTI)

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