A Supreme Court bench hearing the Ayodhya title dispute case on Wednesday said it hopes to complete the hearing in the matter by October 18. A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi also said that petitioners in the case are free to resort to mediation through the apex court appointed panel, but the day-to-day hearing in the case would continue.
The mediation proceedings will remain confidential, the bench said.
“Let us all make a joint effort to conclude the arguments by October 18,” CJI Gogoi told the petitioners adding if necessary, court may even hear it for an extra hour or on Saturdays.
On Monday, the apex court-appointed mediators submitted a memorandum to the CJI-led bench, seeking directions on the letters they received from the chairman of the Sunni Waqf Board and Nirvani Akhara calling for resumption of the mediation process.
One of the two letters has suggested hearings from Monday to Friday and mediation on Saturday and Sunday, sources told The Indian Express.
The Sunni Waqf Board, which secured one-third of the disputed land as per the Allahabad High Court verdict on September 30, 2010, is an original litigant. The Nirvani Akhara is not directly a party to the present proceedings in the Supreme Court. Sources said the mediators are keen to have a “parallel process of talks alongside the arguments going on in court, not in lieu of arguments currently going on”.
After the Chief Justice of India announced that mediation has “failed”, final hearing on the 14 appeals in the matter is being heard since August 6. Those in favour of a temple on the site concluded their arguments in 16 days while those arguing for a mosque are yet to finish their arguments.
The team of mediators, appointed by a bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, was mandated to explore options for a settlement of the Ayodhya dispute between the different parties. It held a series of meetings with all sides till the Supreme Court asked them to finally inform them about the results. The mediators, led by retired Supreme Court judge Justice F M Ibrahim Kalifulla, include Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu. They submitted a final report in August, stating that the mediation process had “failed”.
As reported by The Indian Express on August 5, an attempt was made by the committee to reach an agreement. After a firm proposal submitted by those asking for the mosque did not elicit any response from those in favour of the temple, the committee tried to get a consensus on what it called “the four elements” for reaching a deal. But as some of the contesting parties did not agree to these proposals, the committee had to report to the Supreme Court that the proceedings had “failed”.
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