The Supreme Court-appointed mediation panel on 1 August 2019 said it was unable to arrive at a solution to the 2.77-acre Babri Masjid-Ram Janmoabhoomi land dispute issue in Ayodhya. The court will begin hearing the matter from 2 August 2019. The SC had in March appointed a three-member panel to find an amicable solution to the Ayodhya dispute. The panel comprises Supreme Court justice F M Ibrahim Kalifulla, Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu. On 1 August 2019, the panel conveyed to the SC that it had failed to strike a consensus among parties for a negotiated settlement.
 
 
What
  1. The mediation panel was formed by the apex court when it was hearing petitions seeking a review of the Allahabad high court verdict on September 30, 2010. 
  2. The HC verdict had ordered the disputed 2.77 acres to be divided into three equal parts among the Nirmohi Akhara sect, Sunni Central Wakf Board, Uttar Pradesh, and Ramlalla Virajman, but the verdict was challenged by all three parties.
  3. A bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazir will hear the appeals challenging the HC verdict from 2 August 2019.
  4. The Constitution Bench, while hearing the case said that even if there is a “one percent chance” of settling the dispute amicably, the parties should go for it. 
  5. Not everyone was happy with the idea of mediation. The Uttar Pradesh government, and other Hindu bodies barring the Nirmohi Akhara had opposed the mediation, while Muslim bodies supported the proposal for a negotiated settlement.
  6. The Supreme Court instructed the mediation committee to conduct in-camera proceedings in Faizabad. The committee was given eight weeks, which was further extended. 
  7. During the 155-day long negotiation process that began on March 8 this year, the panel held numerous meetings with parties and persons linked to the dispute despite firm position from Hindu parties. 
  8. On July 18, the SC gave the panel a fortnight's time to make a last-ditched attempt for a negotiated settlement, which failed to make headway.
Why mediation
  1. The Civil Procedure Code clearly states that judges must ensure that all avenues are exhausted to resolve a case outside the court. 
  2. Section 89, states, “where it appears to the Court that there exist elements of a settlement which may be acceptable to the parties, the Court shall formulate the terms of settlement and give them to the parties for their observations.”
  3. There have been at least 10 previous attempts of mediation (including one before the Babri Masjid demolition in December 1992) that failed to find a solution. 
  4. At least three were initiated by India's prime ministers (Chandra Shekhar, PV Narasimha Rao and Atal Bihari Vajpayee), one proposed by Chief Justice of India (J S Khehar in 2017), three by the litigants in the case (Mohammed Hashim Ansari, the oldest litigant in the case and retired bureaucrat Ramesh Chandra Tripathi) and three by spiritual leaders (Jayendra Saraswati, Dalai Lama, Ravi Shankar) and Hindu and Muslim organisations. 
  5. The Allahabad high court also attempted to resolve the legal tussle with its judgment of September 30, 2010. However, none of them were court-monitored as the latest one.
  6. Ayodhya mediation fails, Supreme Court to fix daily hearing schedule
The case
  1. It pertains to the ownership of over 2.77 acres of land in Ayodhya, where the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi disputed structure stood since 1528 till its demolition on December 6, 1992
  2. In 2010, Allahabad HC divided the disputed land equally among three parties - Ram Lalla, Nirmohi Akhara and Sunni Waqf Board
  3. In May 2011, the Supreme Court stayed that verdict. There are 16 appeals and petitions by Hindu and Muslim parties that challenge the Allahabad HC’s verdict, saying a three-way division of the disputed land is not the solution.
  4. The main parties to the case are the Nirmohi Akhara, Ram Lalla (represented by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad-run Ram Janmabhoomi Trust) and the Sunni Waqf Board.

 

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