Supreme Court of India (File Photo)
The Supreme Court on Friday will resume its hearing in Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case, the decades-old political and socio-religious debate over a plot of land in Ayodhya. During today's hearing, the top court is likely to consider the "outcome" of mediation proceedings conducted by a panel set up to amicably resolve the issue. It may also decide whether to hear the matter or continue with the mediation.
In its last hearing on July 18, a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi, asked the three-member mediation panel, headed by former Supreme Court judge FMI Kalifulla, to inform the court about the outcome of the mediation proceedings as on July 31 by August 1 to enable it to proceed further in the matter. The Kalifulla panel has submitted its report on Thursday in a sealed cover about the progress made in the in-camera mediation proceedings.
The bench, which also comprises Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer had said that the contents of the mediation report will remain confidential as per its earlier order. The top court had on July 11 sought a report on the mediation process, saying 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 about the progress of mediation till date and its present stage.
The order was passed during a hearing on 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 Supreme Court for completion of mediation. The ruling comes after the panel's earlier report 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 top 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 of Ayodhya in the 16th century by Shia Muslim Mir Baqi, was demolished during a political rally, triggering an unfaltering riot. It has been alleged that the mosque was constructed after demolition of a temple.
Though there are not enough evidence in support of the existence of the temple, it has been said that a massive Hindu religious building or a temple like structure predated the mosque at the site.