New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday permitted the resumption of mediation sought by the Nirvani Akhara and the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board for an amicable solution to the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute while making it clear that the ongoing Ayodhya hearing, which is at an advanced stage, would continue till October 18.
The five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi permitted the resumption of mediation after the chairman of the three-member committee Justice Fakir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifullah informed the top court about the request for resumption of mediation.
However, the court made it clear that the mediation would not affect the ongoing hearing of the title dispute and that it would be kept confidential, away from the media gaze. Beside Justice Kaifullah, the panel comprises religious preacher Ravi Shankar and the well-known mediator and senior lawyer, Shriram Panchu.
On August 2, the court noted that the “mediation proceedings have not resulted in any final settlement”, and decided to start, on August 6, the hearing on a batch of 13 cross petitions challenging the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment dividing the disputed land three ways.
Wednesday marked the 25th hearing of the case by a five-judge constitution bench comprising the CJI and Justices S.A. Bobde, D.Y. Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer.
The court indicated October 18 for the conclusion of hearing after senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for the Sunni Waqf Board, said they would require another two weeks to conclude their arguments, and that senior counsel, C.S. Vaidyanathan appearing for Ram Lalla Virajman would require a couple of days for rejoinders.
Mr Dhavan added he couldn’t say anything about how much time the counsel for the Hindu Mahasabha and the Nirmohi Akhara required.
“Let us all make a joint effort to conclude arguments by October 18, 2019,” CJI Gogoi said, adding that if necessary, the court may even hear it for an extra hour on Saturdays.
If the hearing concludes by October 18, it would leave the constitution bench a month’s time to write the judgment which has to be delivered by November 17 — the day Chief Justice Gogoi retires....