Ayodhya land dispute: SC seeks status report on mediation, may hear case from July 25

The Supreme Court Thursday sought a report on the “progress of mediation” in the politically sensitive case of Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute in Ayodhya and said a day-to-day hearing may commence from July 25 if the court decides to conclude those proceedings.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi requested former apex court judge Justice (Retd) F M I Kalifulla, chairperson of the three-member mediation panel, to apprise it by July 18 the progress of mediation till date and its present stage.

“It will be convenient to have the said report latest by July 18, on which date further orders will be passed by this court,” said the bench, also comprising justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer.

“We also make it clear that if this court comes to a conclusion that, having regard to the report of Justice F M I Kalifulla, the mediation proceedings should be ordered to be concluded, the court will do so and order for commencement of the hearing of the appeals before it, tentatively, on and from July 25, which hearings, if required, will be conducted on day-to-day basis,” the bench said.

It passed the order while hearing an application filed by a legal heir of one of the original litigants, Gopal Singh Visharad, seeking a judicial decision on the dispute and conclusion of the mediation process, alleging that nothing much was happening there.

“Taking into account the earlier orders passed by this court; the fact that mediation was suggested by this court during the period of time which was otherwise required to make cases/appeals ready for hearing and the contents of I.A (interim appliction)…, we deem it proper to request Justice F M I Kalifulla to inform this court the progress of mediation till date and the stage at which the said process is presently at,” the court said and posted the matter for hearing on July 18 for passing appropriate orders.

The panel, also comprising spiritual guru and founder of the Art of Living foundation Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate and renowned mediator Sriram Panchu, was granted time till August 15 by the apex court for completion of mediation after its earlier report had said that the mediators were “optimistic” about an amicable solution.