New Delhi: The Supreme Court Thursday directed the mediation panel in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute case to submit a status report by 18 July about the progress made.
If the three-member panel of mediators led by former apex court judge F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla reports an unfavourable progress and seeks the conclusion of the mediation, the top court will pass appropriate orders on 25 July to start hearing the appeals in this matter on a day-to-day basis, said the court.
The direction was issued by a five-judge Constitution Bench comprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, along with Justices S.A. Bobde, D.Y. Chandrachud, Ashok Bhusan and S. Abdul Nazeer.
The move came on the heels of a plea filed by a litigant who said there could be no “headway” in the mediation process and that judicial adjudication is the “only solution”.
Gopal Singh Visharad, the first litigant in the Ayodhya civil dispute case, filed a plea Monday, stating that suggestions made during the meetings were “political in nature”.
“During the meetings, suggestions have been made which are not even within the scope of the present mediation in any way and are political in nature,” he said.
“This has convinced the applicant herein that mediation would not yield any fruitful result and the only solution is judicial adjudication,” Visharad added.
The three-member panel also comprises spiritual leader and founder of Art of Living Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu.
The Supreme Court had, in March this year, referred the matter for mediation and tasked the panel with doing the job. The panel had been directed to conduct the proceedings with “utmost confidentiality”.
In May, the top court granted the panel additional time to complete the mediation.
Since the Ayodhya dispute first surfaced in 1855, at least nine attempts have been made to mediate in the case, of which three were initiated by prime ministers Chandra Shekhar, P.V. Narasimha Rao and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.