Ayodhya mediation

The Supreme Court extended till August 15 the time given to the three-member mediation panel headed by former SC judge F M I Kalifulla to explore the possibility of a negotiated solution to the vexed dispute over ownership of the 2.77 acre Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land in Ayodhya.

While Muslim parties represented by senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan supported the extension, senior advocate C S Vaidyanathan, appearing for Ram Lalla (the deity), said time should be given only till June-end and then the appeals against the Allahabad HC verdict of 2010 should be listed for hearing in first week of July.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer said, “When the three mediators are optimistic about the result and seek extension of time till August 15, what is the harm in extending the time? This issue anyway has been pending for years.”

The Justice Kalifulla panel, also comprising mediator and senior advocate Sriram Panchu and spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, has so far filed two reports since the SC set it up on March 8.

In its first report filed in April, the panel had detailed the persons and parties they met and the procedure they intended to adopt for conducting negotiations. In its second report of May 7, the panel expressed optimism about reaching a negotiated solution even though it would be a long drawn process. The mediators had got a grip of the dispute and people’s sentiments.

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