- Top court reopens possibility of mediation to resolve decades-old dispute
- Last month, court said mediation by panel failed to produce a solution
- The Constitution bench gave mediation a shot despite objections
Here are top 10 developments in this big story:
"If parties are desirous of settling the matter through mediation, they can do so," the Supreme Court said on Day 26 of the daily hearings in India's most politically charged dispute.
The judgement has to be delivered before Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi retires on November 17, or the entire process will go into re-start mode."Let us make a joint effort to conclude the same by October 18," said the Chief Justice, adding that if necessary, the court could even hear the case for one extra hour each day, or on Saturdays.
Litigants had been asked yesterday to submit a schedule for their arguments. The court, after going through their skeds, held out the hope that the arguments could be completed by October 18.
As for mediation, if the court-appointed three-member panel submits a consensus report, then it will be taken up in open court and verified, according to sources.
But two key litigants in the title suit have more or less dismissed mediation as the solution. Mahant Dinendra Das, the chief of the Nirmohi Akhada, said: "The panel talks were going on earlier. But it wasn't successful. Now things have moved to the Supreme court. It's a matter of a few weeks. To go back to the panel (mediation) is not a wise decision.
On this, a rival litigant, Iqbal Ansari, agrees. "We want the court to settle this matter. We do not want to complicate it. We don't want to dwell on the past. The present situation is that the court is hearing it and the court will decide," he said.
Last month, the court had started daily hearings after deciding that mediation had failed to produce a solution. "Mediation didn't result in any kind of settlement," Chief Justice Gogoi had said in a six-minute hearing.
The mediation panel comprising former Supreme Court judge FM Kalifulla, spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu had started consultations in March. The court was told that the panel "did its best to arrive at a consensus" in consultation with various petitioners but "some parties" did not agree.
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 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 gave mediation a shot despite objections from petitioners like the Uttar Pradesh government, saying mediation may help in "healing relations".