The Supreme Court on Friday ordered mediation to settle the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid Ayodhya title dispute case by a three-member panel. The bench, also comprising justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer, said the mediation proceedings will be held at Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh and directed the state government to make necessary arrangements for it.
While referring the matter for mediation, the bench said there is no legal impediment to send the matter for mediation for arriving at a possible settlement. The bench said the mediation proceedings will start within a week from Friday and they will be held in-camera. No media, neither print nor electronic, will report its proceedings, it said.
Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
So who are the three members of the panel?
The panel will be headed by retired apex court judge F M I Kalifulla. The other members of the panel will be spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu. The panel will explore the possibility of an amicable settlement and it is expected to finish the mediation process within eight weeks, from March 15 to May 15.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is an alternative method of resolving disputes without resorting to the courts. It is a structured, voluntary and interactive negotiation process where a neutral third-party uses specialized communication and negotiation techniques to help the parties in fulfilling their stated objectives. As a party-centered process, it focuses on the interests, needs, and rights of the parties.
Let’s know the three members of the mediation panel:
- Justice (retired) F M Ibrahim Kalifullah
Justice Kalifulla, son of late Justice M Fakkir Mohamed, hails from Karaikudi in Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu. He enrolled as an advocate on August 20, 1975, after which he began practicing labour law in the law firm of TS Gopalan & Co. On March 2, 2000, he was appointed as a judge of the Madras High Court. He was also an active labour law practitioner. In September 2011, he was named as the Chief Justice of High Court of Jammu and Kashmir. On 2 April 2012, he was named to the Supreme Court of India, sworn in by Chief Justice Sarosh Homi Kapadia.
- Sri Sri Ravishankar
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was born in Papanasam in Tamil Nadu. He is a spiritual leader, who advocates a stress-free, violence-free world. Sri Sri founded the Art of Living and the International Association for Human Values. He, in an interview with India Today in 2018, had said, “Muslims should give up their claim on Ayodhya as a goodwill gesture. Ayodhya is not place of faith for Muslims.”
But today after being appointed by the Supreme Court as a member of a panel to mediate the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case, Sri Sri Ravishankar tweeted, “We must all move together towards ending long-standing conflicts happily by maintaining harmony in society.” “Respecting everyone, turning dreams to reality, ending long-standing conflicts happily and maintaining harmony in society – we must all move together towards these goals. #ayodhyamediation”
- Senior advocate Sriram Panchu
Sriram Panchu is a senior advocate and mediator. He is a founder of The Mediation Chambers, which offers services in mediation and med-arb. The Supreme Court of India has referred to him as a “distinguished mediator”, “eminent trainer” and “one of the foremost mediators in the country”. He had set up India’s first court-annexed mediation centre in 2005 and has been instrumental in making mediation a part of India’s legal system. He has also mediated two notable disputes, a 500 square kilometre dispute between the states of Assam and Nagaland, and another public dispute involving the Parsi community in Bombay.