SC seeks status report on mediation till July 18
IF mediation fails, then the Supreme Court may begin day-to-day hearing in the Ayodhya dispute, said the apex court on Thursday while hearing an application filed by one of the parties representing the Hindu community. A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi 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 nothing much was happening there.
The bench requested former apex court judge Justice (Retd) F M I Kalifulla, chairperson of the three-member mediation panel, to apprise it by July 18 the progress of mediation till date and its present stage. “It will be convenient to have the said report latest by July 18, on which date further orders will be passed by this court,” said the bench, also comprising justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer. “We also make it clear that if this court comes to a conclusion that, having regard to the report of Justice F M I Kalifulla, the mediation proceedings should be ordered to be concluded, the court will do so and order for commencement of the hearing of the appeals before it, tentatively, on and from July 25, which hearings, if required, will be conducted on day-to-day basis,” the bench said.
“Taking into account the earlier orders passed by this court; the fact that mediation was suggested by this court during the period of time which was otherwise required to make cases/appeals ready for hearing and the contents of I.A (interim appliction)..., we deem it proper to request Justice F M I Kalifulla to inform this court the progress of mediation till date and the stage at which the said process is presently at,” the court said and posted the matter for hearing on July 18 for passing appropriate orders.
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 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. During the hearing on Thursday, senior advocate K Parasaran, appearing for the applicant, said it was probably very difficult to settle a dispute of this nature through mediation and sought judicial decision on the vexatious dispute.
“As the highest court, Your Lordships have the authority to dispose of the matter if you so intend,” Parasaran told the bench He was supported by senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, appearing for deity ‘Ram Lalla Virajman’, who said that they had earlier also opposed the reference of the matter to a mediation panel. Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for a Muslim party, opposed the plea for annulment of mediation process, saying it should be allowed to continue and asked whether the fresh plea has been filed to “intimidate” them. “I do not think it is fair at this point of the time to criticise the methodology of the committee,” he said, adding, “Our understanding is that committee has met people jointly and then also individually.”