New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday said the mediation in the Ayodhya temple-mosque dispute could continue till July 31. It gave the panel time till August 1 to submit its report.
On July 11, a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had sought a report on the progress of mediation and said it could start day-to-day hearings from July 25.
The bench was hearing an application to list the dispute for adjudication saying there had been no progress in the mediation process. The counsels had contended that the dispute had been pending for 69 years and the nature of mediation deployed to resolve the row did not appear to be heading in a positive direction.
“Eleven joint sessions have been held, but it seems inconclusive… Difficult to sort out through mediation,” contended the counsel.
Last year, the top court had referred the set up the mediation panel headed by former Supreme Court judge FM Kalifulla. The panel was to hold talks to explore an amicable settlement. The other two members of the panel are spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu.
The dispute involves the site in Ayodhya where the 16th-century Babri mosque stood before it was razed in 1992. In the ensuing riots, 2,000 people died across the country.
As many as 14 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.
The Constitution Bench chose mediation despite objections from petitioners like the Uttar Pradesh government. Barring the Sunni Waqf Board and the Nirmohi Akhara, one of the Hindu petitioners, all were against mediation. But the judges said mediation may help in “healing relations”.