Former SC judge Fakir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla asked to submit report on progress of mediation by July 18.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday sought a report on the “progress” and the “stage” of the ongoing mediation to find an amicable solution to the dispute over the title of Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site, indicating that it will commence day-to-day hearing of the matter if mediation is called off.
Asking the former Supreme Court judge, Justice Fakir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla, to submit a report on the progress of mediation by July 18, the five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that after pursuing the report, if they decide that mediation should conclude, then they will hold day to day hearing of the matter.
The court tentatively fixed July 25 for the commencement of hearing on a batch of cross petitions challenging the September 30, 2010, Allahabad high court judgment that divided the disputed site in three equal parts — one-third to the Sunni Waqf Board, one-third to the Nirmohi Akhara and one-third to the party for “Ram Lalla”.
“We deem it proper to request Justice F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla to inform this court the progress of mediation till date and the stage at which the said process is presently at,” the court said in its order, noting that the mediation suggested by it was to be carried out during the period that was required to ready case material — documents, exhibits and their translations.
“We also make it clear that if this court comes to a conclusion that, having regard to the report of Justice F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla, the mediation proceedings should be ordered to be concluded, the court will do so and order for commencement of the hearing of the appeals before it, tentatively, on and from 25th July, 2019, which hearings, if required, will be conducted on day-to-day basis,” said the order passed on Thursday.
The top court order came while disposing of an application by Gopal Singh Visharad, represented by his legal heir and son Rajendra Singh, seeking the scrapping of the mediation and commencing the hearing on the batch of cross petitions. Mr Visharad is one of the petitioners in the disputed title case.
Senior counsel K. Parasaran, appearing for the applicant, told the court that while mediation is going on, the court can commence hearing on the batch of petitions challenging the high court order trifurcating the disputed site in three equal parts.
Recalling the history of the case dating back to seven decades, Mr Parasaran said that even the legal heir of the original petitioner was an octogenarian.
Mr Parasaran said that if in the course of the hearing of the petitions challenging the high court judgment, mediation committee comes forward with a solution, then the same could be considered by the court at any stage.
However, senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for one of the Muslim litigants, opposed any interference with the on-going mediation and said that “a very serious mediation was going on.”
Mr Dhavan asked how were parties that had nothing to do with the mediation were seeking its scrapping.
He said that application route cannot be taken to seek the recall of the March 8 and May 10 orders. Mr Dhavan said, “If some parties to the dispute are frustrated with the mediation, they can’t seek the scrapping of the mediation committee.”
After the Allahabad high court divided the 2. 77 acres of disputed site in three equal parts, the top court had set up a three-member committee on March 8 this year to hold talks with the parties to dispute to find an amicable solution to the dispute.
Besides Justice Kalifulla, the other members of the committee are religious preacher Ravi Shankar and senior lawyer and well-known mediator Shriram Panchu. Initially, the committee was given eight weeks time to finish the mediation.
The committee submitted its first report on May 7 and had sought more time to complete the exercise. The top court by its May 10 order gave the committee further time till August 15 to complete the mediation.