Ayodhya dispute: Mediation process fails, SC to begin daily hearing on Ram Mandir issue from August 6
Ayodhya dispute: The Supreme Court will begin day-to-day hearing of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case from August 6. The SC bench led by CJI Ranjan Gogoi declared the mediation process as failed, as it did not result in any settlement.
The five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court will now hear the Ram Mandir matter on a daily basis. The bench plans to conclude the hearing before November first week, as CJI Ranjan Gogoi is slated to retire by then. If the hearing does not conclude by then, a fresh new bench will need to be constituted to hear the matter.
The Supreme Court had on July 18 allowed mediation process in the Ayodhya dispute case to continue till July 31. The three-member mediation panel headed by former SC judge FMI Kalifulla submitted its report on August 1. In its report, the mediation panel stated that both the parties had not been able to find an amicable solution to the issue. After studying the mediation panel's report, the SC decided to hear the case on a day-to-day basis, as the mediation process had not resulted in any solid conclusion.
The five-judge Constitution bench, headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi, had earlier on July 11 sought a report on the mediation process from the mediation panel. The SC bench had said then that a day-to-day hearing might begin from July 25 if the court decided to conclude the mediation proceedings. The SC bench had requested the mediation panel head, Justice (Retd) F M I Kalifulla to inform the court regarding the progress of the mediation process by July 18. SC has now given the mediation panel time till July 31 to inform it regarding the outcome of the process. After going through the report, SC will take a call on whether further hearing is required. The contents of the report filed by mediation panel will remain confidential.
Ayodhya dispute: Supreme Court approves mediation in Ram Mandir- Babri Masjid land dispute case
The Supreme Court of India on March 8, 2019 decided to refer the Ayodhya-Babri Masjid title dispute case for mediation. The apex court has formed a panel of mediators to resolve the issue, which will be headed by Supreme Court judge, Justice F M Kalifullah. The other members of the panel include spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Sankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu.
The mediation will be held in Faizabad, newly renamed as Ayodhya and its status report will have to be submitted to the court within the time of four weeks. The mediation proceedings are to be held confidentially and the court has banned the media from reporting it.
Earlier on March 6, 2019, the Supreme Court had reserved its order on resolving the long-standing Ayodhya land dispute case by court-monitored mediation. The five-judge constitution bench, headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and Abdul Nazeer, had appeared divided on whether mediation between the disputing parties was the best way to resolve the decades-old dispute.
Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had then asked the petitioners to suggest names for a “mediator or panel of mediators” and said “we intend to pass the order very shortly”.
Ayodhya case March 6 Hearing: Key Highlights
Taking a moderate view, the Supreme Court observed that it cannot undo Babar's invasion or other historical wrongs but can only look into the current situation and ensure that the right solution comes out of a very sensitive matter.
Justice Bodbe: Mediation does not mean compromise!
According to Justice SA Bobde, the idea of mediation came up because the Ayodhya dispute is not just about the land, but one involving sentiments.
In reply to the Hindu parties that opposed mediation saying that even if parties agree, the public will not agree to a compromise, the Justice Bobde said, "You are assuming that there will be a compromise and one party will give up and one party will win. Mediation does not necessarily mean that. You are thinking about the outcome."
He stated that the court has no control over what happened in the past, who invaded, who was the king, temple or mosque. It just knows about the present dispute and it is concerned only about resolving the dispute.
On being asked whether the media be restrained from reporting on mediation, Justice SA Bobde said that when the mediation is on, it should not be reported on. It may not be a gag, but no motive should be attributed to anyone when the mediation process is on.
He observed that the confidentiality of the mediation process was compulsory to ensure such a process succeeds.
Justice DY Chandrachud: Mediation not the best way!
Justice DY Chandrachud differed slightly in his observation and said that since the matter concerns the faith of millions, it would be difficult to bind millions of people to the outcome of mediation.
The judge stated that considering that Ayodhya dispute is not between two private parties but it concerns two communities, how can they be bound under the mediated resolution if any?
He further asked how it can be referred to mediation when there is no agreement between parties to do so.
He, however, stressed on the importance of a negotiated settlement and added that is the best way to restore peace.
In favour of Mediation
The ‘Muslim’ parties have largely said they were as such, not opposed to the apex court’s suggestion of a mediated settlement. The Sunni Waqf Board also appeared to be in favour of the mediation process.
The Hindu parties including the Hindu Mahasabha and Ram Lalla Virajman have opposed the mediation claiming the matter related to the birthplace of the Hindu deity and no party can alone appropriate a matter of faith in the mediation process.
Advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing on behalf of a group of Muslim petitioners stated that the Muslim petitioners are agreeable to mediation and any compromise or settlement will bind parties. He asked the bench to frame terms for mediation.
The parties argue that several such attempts have failed in the past.
The Nirmohi Akhada is the only Hindu party to support the idea of mediation.
The counsel for Ram Lalla Virajman, the presiding deity of a makeshift temple at the disputed site, said that the question of building a temple at the site of birth of Ram is non-negotiable. They stated that the best solution for the dispute is to give alternate land for building a mosque and that they are willing to crowdfund it.
A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had supported mediation to reach a solution.
The court had then observed that even if there is "one percent chance" of settling the dispute amicably, the parties should go for mediation.
The bench had also comprised Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer.
The bench had said then that it would pass an order, on March 5, on whether or not a court-monitored mediation can be directed in the case. The matter was then listed for hearing on March 6.
• Around fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgement that called for the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya to be partitioned equally among the three parties - the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
• The Supreme Court had on October 29, 2018 adjourned the hearing on pleas challenging the Allahabad High Court verdict in the Ramjanambhoomi-Babri Masjid site title dispute to January 2019. The decision was taken by a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph.
• The court had stated that an appropriate bench, which will be constituted to hear the matter, will decide the date of the hearing.
• The five-judge bench was re-constituted on January 25 as Justice UU Lalit, who was a member of the earlier bench, had recused himself from hearing the matter. When the new bench was constituted, Justice NV Ramana was also excluded from the re-constituted bench.
• Justices Bhushan and Nazeer, who were included in the newly constituted bench, were part of an earlier bench headed by the then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, which had heard the Ayodhya land dispute matter.
• In 2010, a three-judge bench of the Allahabad High Court had ruled that the disputed land in Ayodhya where the Babri Masjid stood for 500 years until it was demolished in 1992 shall be divided into three parts.
• The bench comprising Justices SU Khan, Sudhir Agarwal and DV Sharma had stated that while a two-thirds portion will be shared by two Hindu parties, one-third will be given to the Sunni Muslim Waqf Board.
• The court in a 2-1 majority verdict declared plaintiffs representing Lord Ram, the Nirmohi Akhara and the Waqf Board as joint titleholders of the property.
• The high court allotted the portion under the central dome of the demolished Babri Masjid, under which a makeshift Rama temple currently stands, to the Hindus, asserting that it was the birthplace of Lord Rama, as per Hindi belief and faith.
• The nearby Ram Chabutra and Sita Rasoi were also allotted to the Nirmohi Akhara, while the outer courtyard of the disputed land was allotted to the Sunni Wakf Board.
• The Babri Masjid was demolished by a group of kar sevaks on December 6, 1992.
• The Bench had clarified that even though all the three parties are declared to have a one-third share each in the property, minor adjustments could be made for which the adversely affected party would be compensated from the adjoining land acquired by the Central Government.
• The Sunni Waqf Board had said it would file an appeal in the Supreme Court against the judgment.
In his dissenting judgement, Justice DV Sharma did not agree with the one-third formula. According to him, the outer courtyard was in the exclusive possession of Hindus for worship and in the inner courtyard (in the disputed structure) they were also worshipping and hence they had exclusive rights to the entire site.
While the judge categorically stated that the disputed site is the birthplace of Lord Ram, he wrote: “Place of birth is a juristic person and is a deity. It is personified as the spirit of divine worshipped as the birthplace of Lord Rama as a child. Spirit of divine ever remains present everywhere at all times for anyone to invoke at any shape or form in accordance with his own aspirations and it can be shapeless and formless also.”
While both Justice Agarwal and Justice Sharma said that the mosque was built after the demolition of a Hindu temple, Justice Khan disagreed, noting that the mosque was constructed over the ruins of temples which were lying in utter ruins since a very long time before the construction of the mosque and some material thereof was used in the construction of the mosque.
However, both Justice Agarwal and Justice Khan agreed that the building that existed until 1992 was a mosque, while Justice Sharma disagreed saying that the disputed building was constructed by Babar, against the tenets of Islam and thus, it cannot have the character of a mosque.