Day 21 Arguments : 2 August 2019

Today, the court ordered an end to mediation proceedings. Day-to-day hearing will resume on 6 August. The five judge bench of the Supreme Court - comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Sharad Bobde, Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice Abdul Nazeer and Justice Ashok Bhushan - concluded that the mediation had failed to reach a settlement.

 

Background

The Supreme Court is hearing an appeal to the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment which awarded equal parts of the Ayodhya title to 3 parties - Lord Ram represented by Hindu Maha Sabha, Sunni Wakf Board and Nirmohi Akhara.

 

In September 2018, during Chief Justice Dipak Misra’s tenure, a three judge bench of the Supreme Court held that a constitution bench need not decide the appeal. It ruled that a three judge bench would suffice to hear the appeal and decide matters. However, in January 2019, under Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi’s tenure, a five judge constitution bench was assigned to the dispute. In March 2019, this five judge constitution bench ordered the parties to pursue mediation proceedings for 8 weeks and attempt to conclusively reach a settlement. A three member mediation panel - comprising former Justice FMI Kalifulla, senior advocate Sriram Panchu and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar - was established by the court to guide the mediation process. In May, the court extended the period of mediation until 15 August, upon the request of several parties.

 

However, on 9 July, one of the parties moved the court to resume daily hearings on the ground that mediation proceedings had failed to settle the dispute. The court then directed the mediation committee to submit a progress report by 18 July. On 18 July, the court decided to extend mediation proceedings until 2 August, after which it would decide whether to commence daily hearings in court.

 

Today’s Hearing

Chief Justice Gogoi began today’s hearing by stating that the mediation proceedings had failed to yield an amicable settlement among the parties. Therefore, the court had decided to resume daily hearings in the case from 6 August. Chief Justice Gogoi further stated that the parties must be prepared to start the hearing on the appeals and directed the court’s registrar to keep the necessary material prepared for the court’s perusal.

 

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, on behalf of the appellant, stated that although the court had not allowed further interventions in the matter, Dr Submramaniam Swamy’s writ which originally plead intervention had survived. He further questioned why appeals filed by Ram Lalla and Nirmohi Akhara would be heard first, despite the appellant filing the appeal first. He added that he would need more than 20 days of full hearings to make his submissions.

 

Chief Justice Gogoi stated that all issues raised by senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan would be considered by the court after the hearings begin.

 

The Supreme Court concluded that mediation proceedings had failed. Daily hearings on the appeals will begin on 6 August.

(Court reporting by Srujana Bej)