One of the original litigants in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court seeking early hearing of the matter, contending that nothing much happened in the case after a three-member mediator panel started exploring an amicable solution.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was told by senior advocate P.S. Narsimha, appearing for litigant Gopal Singh Visharad, that the title dispute needed to be listed for urgent hearing. The lawyer said that 'nothing much has been happening' in the land dispute case which was referred to the three-member panel. 'Have you filed an application for early hearing?' the bench asked. The counsel replied in the affirmative.
The apex court had on March 8 referred the matter to a panel of mediators for exploring the possibility of an amicable settlement and appointed Justice (retd) Kalifulla, art of living guru Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu as members of the mediation panel.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by the Chief Justice in May extended till August 15 the time for the panel to complete mediation, saying that the panel had submitted that it was 'optimistic' about an amicable solution. 'If the mediators are optimistic about the result and are seeking time till August 15, 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. Justices S.A. Bobde, D.Y. Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer were part of the bench.
In its March 8 order, the panel, which was to hold in-camera proceedings, was given eight weeks.
The top court had fixed the venue for mediation process in Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh, around 7 km from Ayodhya.
The bench was told earlier by Hindu bodies, except for Nirmohi Akhara and the Uttar Pradesh government that they were opposed to the court's move of setting up the mediation panel. The Muslim bodies had supported the proposal.
Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned among the three parties -- the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.