[dropcap]T[/dropcap]HE Supreme Court is all set to begin hearing from August 6, 2019, the long-pending batch of appeals against the Allahabad High Court’s judgment in the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi land dispute, after the court-appointed mediation panel informed them that mediation had failed.
A Constitution bench headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi has, therefore, decided to commence hearing the appeals on their merits. The bench, which also comprises Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and Abdul Nazeer said the hearing would take place on a day-to-day basis.
On March 8, 2019, the Supreme Court had referred the dispute to mediation. After taking note of the names suggested by the parties, the court had constituted a three-member panel of mediators comprising:
- Former judge of the Supreme Court, Justice F M Ibrahim Khaliifulah – Chairperson
- Founder of Art of Living Sri Sri Ravi Shankar – Member
- Senior Advocate Sriram Panchu – Member
The mediators had been granted liberty by the Supreme Court to co-opt other members to the panel, if so required.
While directing that the mediation be held in-camera as per the norms applicable to the conduct of mediation proceedings, the court also ordered that the views expressed by the parties, including the mediators, be kept under wraps.
The mediation proceedings were being held in Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh.
Though there was no gag order, the court had empowered the panel members to pass necessary orders in writing, if required, to restrain publication of the details of the mediation proceedings.
The current appeals in the Supreme Court were filed against a 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment delivered in four civil suits, suggesting that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties – the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.