Ayodhya dispute: Supreme Court appoints 3-member mediation team

Ayodhya rep file Bhanu Prakash Chandra File image of Ayodhya | Bhanu Prakash Chandra

The Supreme Court on Friday announced the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute in Ayodhya would be referred for mediation for its amicable resolution. The Supreme Court announced a three-member committee would mediate.

The mediators are former Supreme Court justice F.M. Kalifulla, spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and legal mediator Sriram Panchu. Kalifulla would be the chairman of the committee. The mediation committee's proceedings would be conducted in Faizabad and would be in-camera, without media presence. The mediation process will conclude in eight weeks, with the three-member committee being asked to submit a 'status' report in four weeks.

Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi announced there was no “impediment to mediation”. The next hearing on the issue in the Supreme Court would be after six weeks.

A five-member Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had reserved its order on the issue of mediation on Wednesday.

Interestingly, while Muslim bodies supported the Supreme Court's suggestion of referring the Ayodhya dispute for mediation, only the Nirmohi Akhara, among the Hindu bodies, supported it. The Hindu Mahasabha was split on the issue of supporting mediation.

During its hearing on Wednesday, the Supreme Court declared the Ayodhya dispute was not just about 1,500sqft of land, but also about religious sentiments. The Supreme Court said it was conscious about the gravity of the Ayodhya dispute and its impact on the “body politics” of the country.