- 5-judge constitution bench of Supreme Court will begin the final hearing
- The panel was asked to consult with various groups and discuss a solution
- The in-camera proceedings were to be completed within eight weeks
A five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court has begun final hearing in the Ayodhya title suit as mediation by a three-member panel failed to resolve the matter.
The panel, appointed by the top court earlier this year, was asked to consult with various groups and discuss a solution to the dispute.
Former Supreme Court judge FM Kalifulla, spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu had started consultations in March.
The in-camera proceedings were to be completed within eight weeks. But the court extended the time frame till August 15 after the panel said they were "optimistic" about an amicable solution.
But last week, the members informed the court that it "did its best to arrive at a consensus", but "some parties" did not agree to the mediation. The bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi then opted for a day-to-day hearing.
The bench also comprises Justices S A Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer. A verdict is expected before Chief Justice Gogoi retires in November, sources said.
The panel had invited more than 25 parties to the mediation sessions. But Nirmohi Akhara, one of the key petitioners in the case, said only the claimants to the disputed land --- the Sunni Waqf Board and the Akhara -- should be part of mediation. Only these two stakeholders had no objections to mediation. The rest, including the Uttar Pradesh government, were against it.
The dispute involves 2.77 acres of land in Ayodhya, where a 16th Century mosque -- said to have been built by Mughal emperor Babur - once stood.
In December 1992, it was razed by Hindu activists who believe that the mosque was built on the ruins of a temple that marked the birthplace of Lord Ram.
In the days that followed, 2,000 people died in riots across the country.