A fresh plea has been made by a Hindu and a Muslim party seeking resumption of the mediation process for amicable settlement of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute in Ayodhya by the Supreme Court-appointed panel.
A source close to the mediation panel, headed by former apex court judge FMI Kalifulla, said that the three-member committee received a letter seeking resumption of the mediation process.
The source said that the panel, also comprising spiritual guru and founder of the Art of Living foundation Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate and renowned mediator Sriram Panchu, have sent a report on this to the apex court for a direction.
“The panel will wait for the direction of the Supreme Court,” the source said adding that the two parties, Sunni Waqf Board and Nirvani Akhada, have said that the mediation process can be continued without stopping the ongoing hearing in the apex court by the five-judge constitution bench.
The top court on August 2 had said it will hold day-to-day hearing from August 6 to decide the Ayodhya issue as the efforts to arrive at an amicable settlement through mediation have failed.
The apex court had taken note of the report of the three-member panel that the mediation proceedings, which went on for about four months, did not result in any final settlement and it had to decide the matter pending before it.
The apex court, which on March 8 referred the matter for mediation, had asked for in-camera proceedings to be completed within eight weeks, but later granted time till August 15 after the panel’s earlier report said that the mediators were “optimistic” about an amicable solution.
The top court had fixed the seat for mediation process in Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh, around 7 km from Ayodhya, and said adequate arrangements, including the venue of the mediation, place of stay of the mediators, their security, travel should be forthwith arranged by the state government.
The court had perused a report about the progress of mediation process till July 18 and said that its contents will remain confidential.
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.
The central government on January 29 this year moved the apex court seeking its nod to return the 67-acre undisputed acquired land around the disputed site to original owners.
The 0.313 acre plot, on which the disputed structure stood before it was demolished by ‘kar sevaks’ on December 6, 1992, was within the 2.77-acre disputed premises., the plea said.
The government had then acquired 67.703 acres, including the 2.77-acre plot, through a legislation in 1993. The Ram Janambhoomi Nyas (RJN) is the owner of as much as 42 acres of the acquired non-disputed land.
The Centre’s plea said that the RJN (a trust to promote construction of Ram Temple) had also sought return of excess land acquired to original owners.
The Centre claimed that only 0.313 acre of land was disputed on which the structure stood before it was demolished.
A week later, another petition was filed challenging the constitutional validity of 1993 central law on land acquisition in Ayodhya near the disputed site, contending that Parliament has no legislative competence to acquire land belonging to the state.
Seven individuals, including two Lucknow-based lawyers claiming to be devotees of Ram Lalla, said state legislature has exclusive power to make provisions on management of religious affairs inside its territory.
The plea said the Acquisition of Certain Areas of Ayodhya Act, 1993 Act infringes right to religion of Hindus guaranteed and protected by Article 25 of the Constitution of India.