The final hearing of the Ayodhya title suit further postponed today as the Supreme Court gave eight weeks' time for verification of the translation of the documents. A five-judge bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, which was expected to name a date and draw up the schedule of the hearings, told the parties to give mediation another shot meanwhile. This time, the court suggested that it would monitor the mediation efforts.
"It is not a property dispute... We want healing of relationships," said Justice SA Bobdewho is part of the bench. The court also made it clear that the mediation efforts should be confidential and nothing to be discussed in the media.
But with Hindu petitioners reluctant about mediation, the court will consider the matter and give a final order next Tuesday.
The Hindu petitioners have argued that several mediation attempts made in the past have failed. The Muslim petitioners, though, have said they are willing to give it a try in public interest. The case has been in and out of courts for nearly 70 years.
Two years ago, the court had suggested that the two sides attempt to resolve the matter through negotiation. The court had also said it was ready to mediate in the matter if the parties involved wanted. A judicial verdict was the last resort. But negotiations did not take off as both sides involved said they want the court to take a call.
Mediation will further push back any possibility of an early beginning of the construction of the Ram temple, which the right-wing groups have been eager about in view of the coming national elections. There have also been calls to bypass the judicial process through an ordinance of executive order by the government.
The BJP has been caught between restive allies like Shiv Sena, which accused it of treating the Ayodhya issue to gain traction ahead of election, and some like Nitish Kumar, who insist that the Ram Temple is not an agenda of the NDA and suggest going by the court's verdict.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, however, has made it clear that while the government was ready to "make all efforts", no decision could be made until the judicial process is over. "We have said in our BJP manifesto that a solution would be found to this issue under the ambit of the Constitution," PM Modi has said in his interview on New Year's day.
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