The constitutional bench of the Supreme Court headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi has decided to refer the sensitive Ayodhya case for mediation. The bench said the monitored mediation will provide a "permanent solution" to the issue. In the last hearing, the bench noted parties should consider settling the decades-old case amicably as several sentiments are attached with it.
The mediator panel will be headed by former SC judge FM Kalifullah. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu are part of the panel too. The court ordered media will not cover mediation proceedings and the discussions will be held confidentially. The mediation will be held in Faizabad. The status report has to be submitted in four weeks.
The Ayodhya title dispute pertains to 2.77 acres of land in the Uttar Pradesh town. In 1992, Babri Masjid, a 16th-century mosque, was razed by Hindu activists as they believed Lord Rama took human form at the exact spot. Riots broke out across the country following the demolition of the Masjid, killing thousands. In 2010, the Allahabad High Court gave its verdict in the case.
Allahabad HC divided the land equally among all three parties- deity Ram Lalla, Sunni Waqf Board and Nirmohi Akhara. But none of the parties were satisfied with the judgment and approached the top court.
Almost a decade after Allahabad HC pronounced the verdict, the case hasn't reached any conclusion in the SC. And during the last hearing, the constitutional bench spoke about mediation. Apart from CJI Gogoi, the bench included Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer.
When one of the representatives of the Hindu side told the court it was difficult to forget what invaders did, Justice Bobde said they know what happened. "We cannot undo that. We can only undo what exists in the present moment and that's the dispute," he said. The fresh call for negotiations, however, didn't strike a chord with the Hindu side.
Advocate Hari Shankar Jain, who represented a faction of Hindu Mahasabha, said mediation won't work and there "cannot be any compromise". "It's a question of our faith and sentiments. It's Ramjanmabhoomi," Jain argued. But the bench opined it was unfair that he was jumping to conclusions. Representatives of Sunni Waqf Board said they were ready to give mediation a shot, but raised concerns about privacy during negotiations. The Nirmohi Akhara, too, agreed for the mediation. After hearing all the arguments, the court reserved its verdict on March 6. Now that mediation has been ordered, the long-winding case will likely be resolved after the Lok Sabha elections.