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‘Even if There’s 1% Chance’: Supreme Court Calls for Mediation in Ayodhya Land Dispute

While Muslim petitioners said they are amenable to give mediation yet another try, Hindu petitioners, except Nirmohi Akhara, have resisted entering into alternate dispute resolution.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:February 26, 2019, 12:44 PM IST
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‘Even if There’s 1% Chance’: Supreme Court Calls for Mediation in Ayodhya Land Dispute
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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday proposed an amicable resolution of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute through mediation, and fixed Tuesday next week for passing its order.

While Muslim petitioners said they are amenable to give mediation yet another try, Hindu petitioners, except Nirmohi Akhara, have resisted entering into alternate dispute resolution.

The suggestion of mediation came from a Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, which cited Section 89 of the Civil Procedure Code to initiate the process.

Included in the Bench, Justice SA Bobde observed that the court was "seriously" thinking over giving mediation a try since the dispute was not about anybody's private property.

"Even if there is one per cent chance of amicable resolution, it should be given a try. And the mediation will be concurrent to the suit pending before the court. We are seriously considering this option. Mediation will be a confidential process too," remarked Justice Bobde.

The CJI also points out that time of eight weeks, which would be consumed by the parties in vetting the translated documents, could be utilised for mediation.

Senior advocates Rajeev Dhavan, Dushyant Dave and Raju Ramachandran, who were appearing for Muslim petitioners, said they would not object to the mediation once again since the proposal has fallen from the court.

But senior advocates Ranjit Kumar and CS Vaidyanathan, representing Hindu petitioners, resisted mediation, contending all attempts of mediation since the 1990s have failed and they do not want to go through it one more time. "Let this Court take up the issue and decide it on merit expeditiously," Kumar submitted.

At this, Justice Bobde retorted: "We may decide a property dispute but we are thinking more about healing relationships."

Meanwhile, senior advocate Sushil Kumar Jain, representing Nirmohi Akhara, said they are willing to go for mediation.

Finally, the bench adjourned the hearing of the title dispute by another six weeks to enable parties to examine the documents translated by the Uttar Pradesh government and communicate their views so that future proceedings do not get delayed on account of disagreement over translation of the case papers.

About mediation, the bench recorded in its order that in an appropriate case, the court may order mediation under the CPC. It deferred its decision for Tuesday next week when the Constitution Bench will reassemble to pass its final order on mediation of the title dispute.

All earlier attempts of mediation, starting from former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar in 1990s to the latest one by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar last year, have failed to throw up a solution acceptable to both the sides.

Around two year ago, the then Chief Justice, Justice JS Khehar, had also mooted the idea of resolution of the dispute through mediation but the proposal was dropped immediately since parties were not inclined.

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