Day 21 ArgumentsAyodhya Title Dispute
August 2nd 2019
Today, the court ordered an end to mediation proceedings. Day-to-day hearing will resume on August 6th. The five-judge bench of the Supreme Court – comprising CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Sharad Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Abdul Nazeer and Ashok BhushanJJ- concluded that the mediation had failed to reach a settlement.
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 CJI 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 CJI 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 August 15th, upon the request of several parties.
However, on July 9th, 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 July 18th. On July 18th, the court decided to extend mediation proceedings until August 2nd, after which it would decide whether to commence daily hearings in court.
CJI 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 August 6th. CJI 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.
CJI 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 August 6th.