The decades-old Ayodhya temple-mosque dispute will be taken up by the Supreme Court tomorrow as the three-member panel of mediators given eight weeks to speak to all stakeholders for a solution has filed its report.
A former Supreme Court judge, FM Ibrahim Kalifulla, spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and a senior advocate, Sriram Panchu, were in the mediation team that was asked to carry out its task confidentially, without any media reporting by a five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi in March.
The eight-week deadline for the talks ended on May 3. The in-camera sessions were held in Faizabad, the neighbouring town of Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh.
The court had opted for mediation despite objections from petitioners including the Uttar Pradesh government. The case was about "mind, heart and healing" and not land, the court had said.
The top court, which has been advocating negotiations for two years, took the feedback of the petitioners. Barring the Sunni Waqf Board and the Nirmohi Akhara, one of the Hindu petitioners, all were against mediation.
The Hindu groups had argued that a solution through mediation will not be accepted by a majority of the community. The court said it was not appropriate to pre-judge that mediation would fail and people would not agree with the decision.
Justice DY Chandrachud, who was part of the bench, however, said it would be very difficult to bind millions of people by way of mediation, considering it is not just a property dispute between parties but one involving two communities.
The dispute involves 2.77 acres of land in Ayodhya, where a 16th Century mosque, said to have been built by Mughal emperor Babur, stood. Hindu groups believed the mosque was built on the ruins of a temple that marked the birthplace of Lord Ram. The mosque was razed by Hindu activists in December 1992. In the days that followed, 2,000 people died in riots across the country.
In 2010, the Allahabad High Court, while hearing the title suit of the Ayodhya case that has been pending for six decades, allotted two-thirds of the land to Hindus and said they could keep a makeshift temple over the razed mosque's central dome. The Sunni Waqf Board was given a third of the land. Both Hindus and Muslims approached the top court, filing 14 petitions that challenged the High Court order.