Lawyers representing Ram Lalla, the infant Lord Ram, who is also a stakeholder in the Ayodhya's decades-old temple-mosque dispute, today told the Supreme Court that they would not participate in a second round of mediation and wanted the court to take a call on the matter.
This was not the first time the lawyers representing Ram Lalla had refused mediation. Earlier, when the court had suggested mediation and formed a three-member panel, it had refused mediation as well, along with most of the respondents. In August, the court had started daily hearings, saying mediation "did not result in any kind of settlement".
The court brought up the subject of mediation again during a hearing earlier this month, by which time, more than 20 hearings were held. "If parties are desirous of settling the matter through mediation, they can do so," the five-judge bench had said. But the offer was declined by two key Hindu and Muslim litigants.
Today, on Day 34 of the hearing, the bench headed by the Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi did not comment on the renewed mediation but only said it will wind up the hearing by 18 October.
Reiterating the target when a lawyer sought some time for his arguments, the Chief Justice said, "We don't have time... Can we give something which we don't have?"
The mediation panel comprising former Supreme Court judge FM Kalifulla, spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu had started consulting the respondents in March. But they later told the court that despite their best efforts to arrive at a consensus, "some parties" did not agree.
The five-judge bench led by Chief Justice Gogoi has been hearing the case daily since August 6. Last week, the court even extended the time of the hearing by an hour, hoping to resolve the decades old temple-mosque dispute before Chief Justice Gogoi retires on November 17.
Discussing the schedule of hearing with the advocates last week, Chief Justice Gogoi had said, "It will be miraculous to be able to write the judgment in the remaining period".
The dispute involves 2.77 acres of land in Ayodhya, which right-wing activists believe was the birthplace of the Lord Ram.
A 16th Century mosque - said to have been built by the Mughal Emperor Babur -- which stood at the spot was razed in December 1992 by right-wing activists who believed that a temple had to make way for it.