Ayodhya: Litigant asks SC why ‘nothing much’ is happening

Land dispute in Ayodhya seeking early hearing of the case as "nothing much" was happening even after a mediation panel was set up.

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Ayodhya
The makeshift Ram Lalla temple in Ayodhya (file photo)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday agreed to examine the plea of an original litigant in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute in Ayodhya seeking early hearing of the case as “nothing much” was happening even after a mediation panel was set up to explore an amicable solution of the contentious matter.

Gopal Singh Visharad, one of the plaintiffs in the original civil suit, moved the top court for early hearing of the case.

“We will see,” a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose said when the submissions for an early listing of the batch of appeals in the land dispute were advanced by senior lawyer P S Narasimha on behalf of Visharad.

“Have you filed an application for early hearing,” the bench asked. The counsel replied in the affirmative.

The development assumed significance as a five-judge bench headed by the CJI on 10 May had extended the time till 15 August for the three-member mediation panel, headed by former apex court judge F M I Kalifulla, to complete the mediation proceedings.

The panel, which also comprised spiritual guru and founder of Art of Living Foundation Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate and renowned mediator Sriram Panchu, had told the apex court that it was “optimistic” about an amicable solution to the politically sensitive dispute.

“If the mediators are optimistic about the result and are seeking time till 15 August, what is the harm in granting time? This issue has been pending for years and years. Why should we not grant time,” the bench had said.

The apex court had on 8 March referred the matter to the panel of mediators for exploring the possibility of an amicable settlement.

In its 8 March order, the top court had asked the panel of mediators to hold in-camera proceedings and complete them within eight weeks.

The top court had fixed the seat for mediation process in Faizabad of Uttar Pradesh, around seven km from Ayodhya, and said adequate arrangements including the venue of the mediation, place of stay of the mediators, their security, travel should be forthwith arranged by the state government so that proceedings could commence immediately.

The bench was told earlier by Hindu bodies, except for Nirmohi Akhara, and the Uttar Pradesh government that they oppose the court’s suggestion for mediation. The Muslim bodies had supported the proposal.

Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya is partitioned equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

On 6 December 1992, the Babri Masjid, constructed at the disputed site in the 16th century by Shia Muslim Mir Baqi, was demolished.