Faizabad – the first capital of Nawabs of Awadh – around 7 km from Ayodhya will be the seat of mediation for exploring the possibility of amicable settlement in the decades-old politically sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case.
The Supreme Court Friday said a 3-member panel of mediators, headed by former apex court judge FMI Kalifulla, will conduct the mediation proceedings at Faizabad.
It said adequate arrangements including venue for mediation, place of stay of the mediators, their security, travel should be arranged by the Uttar Pradesh government so that proceedings can commence immediately.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi also appointed spiritual guru and founder of Art of Living foundation Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu, a renowned mediator, as members of the mediation panel.
Sri Sri Ravishankar had last year reportedly visited the twin city of Faizabad and Ayodhya, trying to settle the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute by holding talks with various stakeholders.
Records state that the historic city of Faizabad was made first capital of Awadh, a princely state established in 18th century by then Nawab Saadat Ali Khan I.
The bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer, said the mediation process will commence within a week from Friday and the panel will submit the progress report within four weeks.
It said mediation proceedings, which would be held “in-camera”, be completed within eight weeks which is the interregnum period granted earlier by the apex court to the parties in main Ayodhya case to go through translations of oral and documentary evidences.
Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, 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.
On December 6, 1992, the Babri Masjid, constructed at the disputed site in the 16th century by Shia Muslim Mir Baqi, was demolished.