The Supreme Court Friday extended till August 15 the time for a panel of mediators, headed by former apex court judge Justice F M I Kalifulla, to explore an amicable solution to the politically sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute at Ayodhya. A five judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said they have received the report from Justice Kalifulla in which the panel has sought extension of time till August 15 to complete mediation proceedings. "If the mediators are optimistic about the result and are seeking time till August 15, what is the harm in granting time? This issue has been pending for years and years. Why should we not grant time," the bench also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer told the counsel appearing for the parties.
The counsel appearing for both the Hindu and Muslim parties expressed confidence over the ongoing mediation proceedings and said they are fully cooperating with the process. At the outset the bench said they have received the report on May 7 from the chairman of the panel and they have requested the court to consider extending the time till August 15 to complete the mediation proceedings. "We have perused and considered the report of May 7 of Justice F M I Kalifulla indicating the progress made in the mediation proceeding." "Chairman of the mediation committee has sought extension of time till August 15 to enable the committee to find an amicable solution. We are inclined to grant time till August 15," the bench said.
One of the advocates appearing in the matter said the apex court had earlier given eight weeks time to the panel of mediators and now nine weeks have gone by. "We had given eight weeks and the report has come. We are not inclined to tell you what is there in the report of the committee," the bench said. One of the counsel told the bench that there are around 13,990 pages of documents in vernacular languages and said some wrong translations have been made which would be a problem. "Objections, if any, on the translation may be placed on the record by written note by June 30," the bench said, adding, "Nobody will come in the way of mediation". The top court had fixed the seat for mediation process in Faizabad of 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 so that proceedings could commence immediately.
It had also directed that the mediation proceedings be held in-camera as per norms applicable to conduct mediation proceedings. 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.