Mediation in the Ayodhya temple-mosque dispute will continue till July 31, the Supreme Court said today, giving a panel time till August 1 to submit its report on talks with various groups for a solution.
A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had on July 11 sought a report on the progress of mediation and said it could start day-to-day hearings from July 25 if there was no merit in continuing mediation.
The top court had last year referred the decades-old dispute for mediation and set up the panel, headed by former Supreme Court judge FM Kalifulla. The panel has been tasked by the court to hold consultations to explore a potential avenue for an amicable settlement. The other two members of the panel are spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu.
The dispute involves the site in Ayodhya where the 16th-century Babri mosque stood before it was razed in 1992 by Hindu activists who believe that it was built on the ruins of an ancient temple marking the birthplace of Lord Ram. In riots following the mosque demolition, 2,000 people died across the country.
Fourteen appeals have been filed in the top 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 (infant Ram).
The Constitution Bench chose mediation despite objections from petitioners like the Uttar Pradesh government. Barring the Sunni Waqf Board and the Nirmohi Akhara, one of the Hindu petitioners, all were against mediation. But the judges said mediation may help in "healing relations".
"It is not only about property. It is about mind, heart and healing, if possible," the bench had said.
Besides the Chief Justice, the other judges in the constitution bench are Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer.