SC calls for out-of-court settlement in Ayodhya case

Ahead of hearing the petitioner’s contentions in contentious Ram Janmabhoomi – Babri Masjid title dispute, the Supreme Court once again proposed an amicable resolution through mediation, and fixed Tuesday next week for passing its order.

The Supreme Court had also proposed meditation last year. While Muslim petitioners said they are amenable to give mediation yet another try, Hindu petitioners, except Nirmohi Akhara, have resisted entering into alternate dispute resolution.

The suggestion of mediation came from a Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, which cited Section 89 of the Civil Procedure Code to initiate the process.

Included in the Bench, Justice SA Bobde observed that the court was “seriously” thinking over giving mediation a try since the dispute was not about anybody’s private property.

“Even if there is one per cent chance of amicable resolution, it should be given a try. And the mediation will be concurrent to the suit pending before the court. We are seriously considering this option. Mediation will be a confidential process too,” remarked Justice Bobde.

The CJI also points out that time of eight weeks, which would be consumed by the parties in vetting the translated documents, could be utilised for mediation.

Senior advocates Rajeev Dhavan, Dushyant Dave and Raju Ramachandran, who were appearing for Muslim petitioners, said they would not object to the mediation once again since the proposal has fallen from the court.

But senior advocates Ranjit Kumar and CS Vaidyanathan, representing Hindu petitioners, resisted mediation, contending all attempts of mediation since the 1990s have failed and they do not want to go through it one more time. “Let this Court take up the issue and decide it on merit expeditiously,” Kumar submitted.

At this, Justice Bobde retorted: “We may decide a property dispute but we are thinking more about healing relationships.” Meanwhile, senior advocate Sushil Kumar Jain, representing Nirmohi Akhara, said they are willing to go for mediation.

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