Editor's Note: This article was originally published on 8 March, 2019, when the Supreme Court appointed the three-member mediation panel in a bid to resolve the long-standing Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid dispute in Ayodhya. It is being republished today ahead of a hearing in the apex court on whether to grant an early hearing in the case, as a plea has claimed that the mediation process has been "ineffective".
In a verdict that aims to resolve the decades-old Ran Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid conflict in Ayodhya, the Supreme Court appointed a three-member panel of mediators on Friday. The five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi appointed former Supreme Court judge FM Khalifullah as the chairperson of the panel which will also include spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar and lawyer Sriram Panchu.
The apex court referred the matter for mediation while observing that there was "no impediment" in resorting to mediation to resolve the 'politically sensitive' case.
The timeline of the mediation process prescribed by the court directs that the panel begin mediation within a week from Friday and has granted the duration of eight weeks for the process.
Gogoi, reading out the judgment, also said that the panel is expected to present a status report to the bench four weeks, or a month, into the mediation process. However, reports also said that the matter will be heard next by the Supreme Court after six weeks.
The bench, also comprising Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer, directed that the mediation will be held at Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh. On Wednesday, the bench had reserved the order after hearing various contesting parties.
Hindu bodies, except Nirmohi Akhara, opposed the apex court's suggestion to refer the issue for mediation, while Muslim bodies supported it. The bench had concluded the hearing by asking stakeholders to give the names of possible mediators.
The apex court in its Wednesday hearing observed that the issue is not about 1,500 square feet land, but about religious sentiments. The bench said it was conscious of the gravity and impact of the issue on "public sentiment" and also on the "body politic of the country".
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Jul 11, 2019 09:58:10 IST