New Delhi: The Supreme Court appointed mediation panel in the contentious Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case is expected to reach Ayodhya by a special flight at 11 am on Tuesday. If reports are to be believed, a ‘mini secretariat’ has been built for the mediators inside the Awadh university campus by the district administration following the directions of the state government.
On March 8, a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi referred the land dispute case for a court-appointed and monitored mediation for a “permanent solution”. The mediation panel will be headed by Justice F M Kalifulla. Spiritual guru and founder of Art of Living foundation Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu, well known for his mediation experience, are the other two members of the panel. Interestingly, all the three mediators appointed by the apex court hail from Tamil Nadu where the Ayodhya dispute does not have much resonance.
It said the mediation proceeding to be held “in-camera” and in “utmost confidentiality” will be completed within eight weeks which is the interregnum period granted earlier by the apex court to the parties in the main Ayodhya case to go through translations of oral and documentary evidences.
The three panel members separately said they will strive to achieve a resolution of the vexed dispute. “For the present, I can only say that if the committee has been constituted, we will take every step to resolve the dispute amicably,” Kalifulla said in Chennai. He had earlier served as a judge of the Madras High Court.
While Ravishankar said everybody must move together to end long-standing conflicts, Panchu said the court has given a “serious” responsibility and he will do his best. Ravishankar also said the decision is in the best interest of the country.
Reacting to the Supreme Court order, UP deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya had said, “I won’t question the SC order but in the past also, efforts were made to arrive at a solution but with no success. No Lord Ram devotee or saint wants a delay in construction of Ram Mandir.”
All India Muslim Personal Law Board member and convener of Babri Masjid Action Committee, Zafaryab Jilani was guarded in his reaction and said, “We have already said that we will cooperate in the mediation. Now, whatever we have to say, we will say it to the mediation panel, not outside.”
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 triggering communal riots across the country in which nearly 2,000 people were killed.