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SC to decide tomorrow whether to order court-monitored mediation in Ayodhya land dispute

SC to decide tomorrow whether to order court-monitored mediation in Ayodhya land dispute

Constitution Bench had indicated its desire to try one last attempt at mediation for resolving the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi title suit

The five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court is expected to pass an order, on March 5 (Tuesday), on whether or not it would invoke Section 89 of the Code of Civil Procedure to attempt a court-monitored mediation in the decades-old Babri MasjibRam Janmabhoomi title suit.

The Constitution Bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer had, last week, indicated its desire for attempting mediation, under supervision of the Supreme Court, to resolve the land dispute between the warring claimants.

The bench had said that the mediation effort, if ordered, will be kept confidential and will continue alongside the court proceedings pending against the clutch of petitions challenging the 2010 verdict of the Allahabad High Court which had decreed division and transfer of title in three equal parts of the 2.77 acres of the disputed land to the three principal claimants, including the infant Lord Ram (Ram Lalla Virajman).

During proceedings in the case on February 26, senior advocates Rajeev Dhawan, Dushyant Dave (appearing for the Muslim petitioners) and SK Jain (appearing for the Nirmohi Akhara) had informed the court that they were willing to give mediation another try if the court, in its wisdom, invoked Section 89, CPC. Counsels for the other Hindu parties in the case, primarily CS Vaidhyanathan (for Ram Lalla) and those appearing for the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, had maintained that all attempts at resolving the dispute through out-of-court negotiations and arbitration had failed in the past and that the apex court must adjudicate on the petitions now.

However, Justice Bobde had said that the court wanted to invoke mediation since it did not see the case as a mere property dispute and wanted to view it from the standpoint of “healing relationships”. He had famously remarked that “even if there is 1 per cent chance” of resolving the title suit through mediation, the court would want to give it a try.

Chief Justice Gogoi, while favouring mediation, had told the counsels for all the parties that the court would not pass any order against their wishes.

The bench had posted, for March 5, the pronouncement of its decision on whether or not to order court-monitored meditation of the title suit.

—India Legal Bureau