The Supreme Court on Friday appointed a three-member panel to mediate in the Ayodhya title suit case, while pronouncing the order on court-monitored mediation that it had reserved at the end of its hearing on Wednesday.
The panel will be led by retired Supreme Court justice Fakkir Kalifulla and will also comprise Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Sri Ram Panchu.
The mediation will take place in Uttar Pradesh's Faizabad and the panel has been mandated to complete its mediation in eight weeks - by which time the Supreme Court documents pertaining to the case will have been translated and put in order with the consent of all the concerned parties.
A progress report will have to be submitted to the apex court in four weeks. The mediation process is to take place in-camera
A fairly lengthy deliberation had taken place on the topic during the Wednesday hearing, with the justices elaborating on what a mediation could entail. Hindu bodies in the case, apart from the Nirmohi Akhada, had then opposed the mediation, while Muslim bodies had backed it.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had earlier attempted a mediation in the dispute, speaking to multiple stakeholders, at the end of which a proposal was submitted which would have seen a Ram Mandir being constructed at the Ram Janmabhoomi site in Ayodhya, while a Mosque would be constructed elsewhere.
The decades-old issue is critical in political terms as well, for historical reasons, as well as on account of construction of the Ayodhya Ram Mandir being a manifesto promise in the BJP's 2014 election manifesto.
"We are inclined to suggest mediation because it’s not just an issue about that land. It’s an issue of sentiment, faith. We are conscious of the gravity of the dispute and conscious of the impact it will have. It’s not only about the land. It’s about mind, hearts and whether any healing is possible" - Justice Bobde
"Outcome of the mediation is not something the court considers when it orders for court-monitored mediation. A matrimonial dispute that has been referred to for mediation might end up in divorce or might end up in reconciliation. That’s not something the court looks into" - Justice Bobde
"If the issue is referred for mediation, it’s not going to be one mediator but a panel of mediators" - Justice Bobde
"If mediation is decided upon, details will have to be curtailed from the media. It might not be a gag necessarily but no motive should be ascertained to anybody involved in the mediation process" - Justice Bobde
"Purpose of mediation is to reach a compromise between parties" - Justice Chandrachud