Babri Masjid case: SC extends time till Aug 15 for mediation process

New Delhi, May 10: The Supreme Court on Friday granted time till August 15 to the three-member Ayodhya land dispute mediation committee to find an amicable solution to the vexed issue.
In response to a request raised by the chairman of the Ayodhya land dispute mediation committee, Justice FMI Kalifulla, the apex court accepted the request and granted time till August 15. Today, the panel submitted its report to the top court in a sealed cover.
One of the advocates appearing in the matter said the apex court had earlier given eight weeks time to the panel of mediators and now nine weeks have gone by.
Brushing aside objections, the bench said — “if mediators are optimistic about the result and seek time till Aug 15, what’s the harm in granting it? The matter has been pending for years.”
The counsel appearing for both the Hindu and Muslim parties expressed confidence over the ongoing mediation proceedings and said they are fully cooperating with the process.
At the outset the bench said they have received the report on May 7 from the chairman of the panel and they have requested the court to consider extending the time till August 15 to complete the mediation proceedings.
“We have perused and considered the report of May 7 of Justice F M I Kalifulla indicating the progress made in the mediation proceeding.”
The court refused to divulge the details on the mediation efforts. “We will not tell you the progress made, that is confidential,” replied the court to a counsel’s query regarding the mediation. The court observed that the mediation process can be also extended, if required. The court’s observation came after a report was submitted on the mediation efforts.
One of the counsel told the bench that there are around 13,990 pages of documents in vernacular languages and said some wrong translations have been made which would be a problem.
“Objections, if any, on the translation may be placed on the record by written note by June 30,” the bench said, adding, “Nobody will come in the way of mediation”.
The case was being heard by a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi and included Justices SA Bobde, SA Nazeer, Ashok Bhushan and DY Chandrachud.
This means the SC defers hearing on appeals against Allahabad HC’s 2010 judgment dividing the 2.77 acre Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid disputed land equally among Ram Lalla, Nirmohi Akhara and Sunni Wakf Board.
The apex court had on March 8 constituted a three-member committee, chaired by retired top court judge Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla, for exploring possibilities of an amicable settlement to the land dispute. The panel also comprised of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior Madras high court advocate Sriram Panchu as members.
The Court had expressed the view that the proceedings must be conducted with “utmost confidentiality” to ensure its success.
In its order, the bench had said that the mediation proceedings will be held in Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh and the state government will provide the mediators with all facilities.