Amidst opposition from Hindu groups, Supreme Court reserves order on whether to refer Ayodhya dispute case for mediation

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its order on whether to refer the Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi land dispute case for a mediation after Hindu groups opposed the idea of mediation to resolve the issue. Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi asked the concerned parties to suggest name for mediator or panel for mediators. CJI Gogoi, according to news agency ANI, said, “We intend to pass the order soon.”

Today’s hearing was on the limited point whether the matter could be referred for mediation. Justice SA Bobde of the five-judge Constitution Bench argued in favour of the mediation and said that ‘There need not be one mediator but a panel of mediators.’ He, however, said that media reporting will be banned when the mediation process is on.

Supreme Court
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“When the mediation is on, it should not be reported on. It may not be a gag, but no motive should be attributed to anyone when the mediation process is on,” Justice Bobde was quoted by news agency ANI.

Hindu groups opposed the suggestion for mediation arguing that the issue was religious and sentimental and not just a property dispute. They said that a public notice was necessary before case is sent to mediation.

Muslim groups, however, agreed with the suggestion of mediation as their lawyer Rajeev  Dhawan said that consent of all parties were not needed for the court to refer a case to mediation.

Justice Bobde said, “We have no control over what happened in the past, who invaded, who was the king, temple or mosque. We know about the present dispute. We are concerned only about resolving the dispute,”

Justice DY Chandrachud, according to LiveLaw website, struck a different note wondering  how the mediation settlement can bind millions of people, as the issue was not just between two private parties. However he adds that a negotiated settlement is always ‘desirable.’

The five-judge Constitution Bench was scheduled to hearing the much-awaited Ayodhya dispute case on 29 January but the hearing was cancelled due to unavailability of Justice Bobde.

On 25 January, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had reconstituted the Supreme Court bench by replacing Justices UU Lalit and NV Ramana with Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer respectively. Justice Lalit had recused himself from the last hearing after lawyer Rajeev Dhawan pointed out that the judge had represented Kalyan Singh during whose chief ministers tenure, the Babri Masjid was demolished. Lalit had represented Singh in a contempt case in 1997.

Live updates:

  • Hindu Mahasabha argued that a notice was required as per the rule. But the Supreme Court bench rejected the argument saying that it was a requirement in a suit in High Court (LiveLaw)
  • C S Vaidyanathan for Ram Lalla says that the faith that the site was the birth place of Lord Ram was non-negotiable. Vaidyanathan, according to Livelaw, said, “We are ready to crowd fund the construction of mosque elsewhere.”
  • In the context of Justice Chandrachud’s observation, Justice Bobde dsyd that if the result of adjudication in a representative suit binds all parties, so will the result of mediation. (LiveLaw)
  • Advocate Rajeev Dhavan,who is appearing for group of Muslim petitioners in the case,says, “Muslim petitioners are agreeable to mediation&any compromise or settlement will bind parties,” asks bench to frame terms for mediation (ANI)
  • We are considering what is legal and can be binding on everybody, says Justice Bobde
  • When the Hindu parties submitted that mediation will be a failure, Justice Bobde said, “You are looking at the outcome even before mediation is attempted. This is also about heart and mind and healing of relations.”

 

 

 

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