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Home » SC to hear Ayodhya pleas from July 25 if negotiations nixed | India News

SC to hear Ayodhya pleas from July 25 if negotiations nixed | India News

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday said it would begin day-to-day hearing to settle ownership of the 2.77-acre Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi land in Ayodhya if it concludes on July 18 that continuing the four-month-old SC-appointed mediation panel’s search for a negotiated solution may not be fruitful.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazir requested panel chairman, former SC judge F M I Kalifulla, to submit a report by July 18 detailing the “progress of mediation till date and the stage at which the said process is presently at (sic)”.
“We also make it clear that if this court comes to a conclusion (on July 18) that, having regard to the report of Justice Kalifulla, the mediation proceedings should be ordered to be concluded, the court will do so and order commencement of the hearing of appeals before it, tentatively on and from July 25. Hearings, if required, will be conducted on day-to-day basis,” the CJI-led bench said in its order.
The order came after Hindu parties joined hands to demand an end to the mediation process which has been favoured by the Muslim side.
Both Hindu and Muslim parties to the dispute have challenged in the apex court the September 30, 2010 judgment of Allahabad high court which had divided the 2.77-acre disputed land into three equal parts and given ownership of one part each to Ram Lalla (idol), Nirmohi Akhara and Sunni waqf board.
Amid the heat of arguments, the SC on March 8 brushed aside vehement opposition from Hindu parties and suo motu set up a three-member panel comprising Justice Kalifulla, renowned mediator and senior advocate Sriram Panchu, and spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravishankar to explore the possibility of a negotiated settlement. While the Sunni waqf board has consistently supported negotiations, the Nirmohi Akhara broke ranks with Hindu parties and lent its support for mediation.
However, four months later, the Akhara, through its counsel Sushil Jain, did a U-turn on Thursday and criticised the procedure adopted by the SC-appointed panel. “There should be a joint meeting of parties. When mediators are not attempting any meeting of the parties to the dispute, what negotiated settlement can take place?”
The arguments commenced on an application filed by Rajendra Singh, heir of Gopal Singh Visharad, the original plaintiff. Appearing for him, senior advocate K Parasaran said the mediators had 11 sittings and little was achieved as the very nature of the dispute defied attempts at a negotiated settlement.
“Mediation may be one of the routes to a solution but impediments are many. Only the Supreme Court as the highest court of the land with its power of reasoning can find a judicial solution to this issue pending in litigation for the last 70 years. I will be completing 69 years in practice this month,” said Parasaran, who served as attorney general.
Appearing for Muslim parties, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan said Hindu parties were not only being unfair to the mediators but were employing intimidating tactics towards the Muslims by demanding that the mediation process be scrapped. Appearing for Ram Lalla, senior advocate Ranjit Kumar said mediation could not produce a solution to the issue and it was time the court started hearing the appeals.
With all Hindu parties now opposed to mediation, the SC fell back on its February 26 order by which it had given eight weeks to parties to verify the accuracy/correctness of the official translation of the oral evidence and some of the exhibits, which formed part of HC records in the Ayodhya suits. The parties were given a second chance on May 10 to put in writing their objection, if any, to the translation. None of the parties till date has filed any such objection, the SC said.
This has made the appeals ready for hearing, the court said, while fixing tentative day-to-day hearing on appeals from July 25.

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