Ayodhya land dispute: SC-appointed mediation panel holds first sitting In Faizabad

The Supreme Court-appointed mediation committee for resolution of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute, held its first sitting here on Wednesday and heard all parties who attended the proceedings.

The panel, headed by former apex court judge F M ibrahim Kalifulla, directed that there should not be any reporting of the mediation proceedings in the print or other media, pointing out the views expressed by the top court last week.

Besides Justice Kalifulla, the other members of the committee are Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior Madras High Court advocate Sriram Panchu.

The panel said on Wednesday, ”The Chairman and the members of the mediation committee appointed by Hon’ble Supreme Court of India for resolution of Ramjanmabhoomi/Babri Masjid dispute had assembled for the first meeting at 10.30 a.m. at Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh, to start the mediation proceedings. Notices had been issued to all the parties to the different Civil Appeals pending in the Hon’ble Supreme Court and to their advocates as well. The Committee heard all the parties who attended the proceedings.”

“’We are also of the view that the mediation proceedings should be conducted with utmost confidentiality so as to ensure its success which can only be safeguarded by directing that the proceedings of mediation and the views expressed therein by any of the parties including the learned mediators shall be kept confidential and shall not be revealed to any other person,” the committee said in its order.

It directed that there should not be “any reporting of the mediation proceedings in the print or other media”.

On March 8, the Supreme Court referred the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case for court-appointed and monitored mediation.

“We have considered the nature of the dispute arising. Notwithstanding the lack of consensus between the parties in the matter, we are of the view that an attempt should be made to settle the dispute by mediation,” a five-judge Constitution bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said in its order.

The bench, which also comprised Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer, said that the mediation proceedings will be held in Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh and the state government will provide the mediators all facilities.

The bench was hearing appeals against the September 30, 2010 verdict of the Allahabad High Court which ordered a three-way division of the disputed 2.77 acres of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya between the Nirmohi Akhara sect, the Sunni Central Wakf Board, Uttar Pradesh and Ramlalla Virajman.

Section 89 states: “Where it appears to the court that there exist elements of a settlement which may be acceptable to the parties, the court shall formulate the terms of settlement and give them to the parties for their observations and after receiving the observations of the parties, the court may reformulate the terms of a possible settlement and refer the same for (¬a) arbitration; (b) conciliation; (c) judicial settlement including settlement through Lok Adalat; or (d) mediation.”

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