Ayodhya case: SC calls for mediation

Ayodhya case: SC calls for mediation
Supreme Court of India
New Delhi, Feb 26 (PTI): | Publish Date: 2/27/2019 12:00:00 AM IST

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the contending parties in the politically sensitive Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute in Ayodhya to seriously consider mediation for a permanent solution even if there is “one per cent chance” of success.

Observing it was looking at the possibility of “healing relations” between the parties, a five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi also said it would pass an order on March 6 on whether to refer the dispute to a court-appointed mediator.
The suggestion for another round of mediation, however, drew a mixed response from the parties to the decades-old dispute.
The proposal was mooted by one of the judges, Justice S A Bobde, during the hearing when both the Hindu and the Muslim litigants were sparring over the veracity of documents related to the case which were translated by the Uttar Pradesh government and filed with the apex court registry.
“We are considering it (mediation) very seriously. You all (parties) have used the word that this matter is not adversarial. We would like to give a chance to mediation even if there is one per cent chance,” said the bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer.
“We would like to know your (both parties) views on it. We do not want any third party to make a comment to jeopardise the entire process.”
“This, we have done keeping in mind that the period of eight weeks that we have allowed to the parties to go through the translations of the oral and documentary evidence could be effectively utilised to try and resolve the issues in the manner indicated above,” the bench said.
“We have suggested to the parties that during the interregnum a court appointed and court monitored mediation with utmost confidentiality could be initiated to bring a permanent solution to the issues raised in the cases,” it observed.
The bench noted in its order that lawyers representing the legal heirs of original litigants M Siddiq and Mohd Hashim and Nirmohi Akhara are “in broad agreement” with the suggestion of the court about mediation while counsel appearing for Sri Ram Lalla Virajman, Mahant Suresh Das and Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha have “not concurred” with it.
“Do you seriously think that the entire dispute for so many years is for property? We can only decide property rights but we are considering the possibility of healing relations,” it said.
“Keeping in mind that the mediation suggested by the court is in terms of the mandate under section 89 of the CPC and in an appropriate case it will always be open for the court to invoke its power, we deem it proper to observe that the mediation suggested is only to effectively utilize the time of eight weeks that would be taken to make the cases ready for hearing,” the bench said in its written order.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for M Siddiq, said they were agreeable to the “very important suggestion” of mediation but said the court should fix a time frame for mediation as the dispute was a “knotty issue”.
Senior advocate C S Vaidyanathan, appearing for Ram Lalla Virajman, said they did not agree for “another round of mediation” as such attempts have failed in the past.
Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, appearing for one of the parties, said things have not worked during earlier round of mediation and “everybody wants that the matter should be decided by the Supreme Court”.

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