The Supreme Court Friday appointed a three-member panel to find an amicable solution to the Ayodhya dispute. The mediation panel will be headed by retired Supreme Court judge justice F M Ibrahim Kalifulla and comprises Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu.
The apex court was hearing petitions seeking a review of the Allahabad High Court verdict on September 30, 2010, which ordered the disputed 2.77 acres to be divided three ways among the Nirmohi Akhara sect, Sunni Central Wakf Board, Uttar Pradesh, and Ramlalla Virajman.
The panel, which has been given eight weeks to complete the mediation process, will submit a progress report in four weeks. The Court has allowed the mediators to include more members in the process, if need be.
A look at the three mediators in the Ayodhya dispute:
Justice (retired) F M Ibrahim Kalifulla
Justice Kalifulla, son of late Justice M Fakkir Mohamed, hails from Karaikudi in Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu. He was enrolled as an advocate on August 20, 1975, and was an active labour law practitioner. He appeared for various public and private sector undertakings. He was the Standing Counsel for the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB).
He became a permanent judge in the Madras High Court in 2000. Among his notable judgments during his tenure at the Madras HC was the dissenting view that election to a local body — the Chennai City Corporation — was liable to be set aside.
He also penned an important order on the introduction of Vedic Astrology as a course of scientific study in Indian universities. In his judgment, he had stated: “The very purpose of imparting education is to gain knowledge and also education is stated to be the teacher of a teacher. Therefore, there should be every scope for making a study on very many subjects in order to enrich one’s craving for knowledge. Any such attempt from any quarters in furtherance of that pursuit, in my opinion should not, therefore, be stultified.”
On September 18, 2011, he was appointed Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, after which he was elevated to the Supreme Court on April 2, 2012.
Justice Kalifulla was part of the Supreme Court bench headed by then Chief Justice T S Thakur which ordered sweeping changes in the structure, management and functioning of the BCCI.
Justice Kalifulla retired on July 22, 2016.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was born in Papanasam in Tamil Nadu. He is a spiritual leader, who advocated a stress-free, violence-free world. Sri Sri founded the Art of Living and the the International Association for Human Values.
Sri Sri has previously suggested an out-of-court settlement over the Ayodhya dispute.
Last year, Sri Sri had said that the only solution to the Ayodhya dispute was to construct a grand temple with the cooperation of both Hindus and Muslims. “If this issue has to be resolved forever, the only solution is that a grand temple is constructed with cooperation of both communities,” he had said, while offering to explore ways for an out-of-court settlement.
Senior advocate Sriram Panchu
Sriram Panchu, who is also based in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, is a senior advocate and mediator. He has been described as “one of the foremost mediators in the country” by the Supreme Court. He has mediated in a wide range of civil and commercial disputes. Two notable disputes he has mediated were a 500 square kilometre dispute between Assam and Nagaland, and a public dispute involving the Parsi community in Bombay.
Panch is the president of the national association Mediators India, and a Board member of the International Mediation Institute. He is also a certified mediator of the Singapore International Mediation Institute.
He is the author of ‘Settle for More’ and ‘Mediation: Practice & Law (Butterworths, LexisNexis)’.