The Supreme Court delivered an order, referring the Ayodhya Title Dispute to mediation. The mediation will commence within one week and will last for eight weeks. The mediation panel comprises: Ret'd Justice FM Kalifulla (Chairman), Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Senior Advocate Sriram Panchu.
A 5 judge Consitution Bench of the Supreme Court is currently hearing appeals against the decision of the Allahabad High Court, which divided the land at Ayodhya between Ram Lalla, the Sunni Waqf Board and the Nirmohi Akhara.
On 6th March, the Bench comprising CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan, and S Abdul Nazeer heard the counsels present oral arguments as to whether mediation was a legal possibility. The Bench specifically expressed interest in referring the dispute to mediation for a period of 8 weeks, which is the time provided to the parties to file objections to the official translation of case records.
One the primary arguments against the case being referred to meditation was that the present case is a representative suit, the outcome of which will impact the public at large, who will not be bound by the agreement reached during the mediation. Specifically, Order I Rule 8 and Order XXIII Rule 3-b of the Code of Civil procedure, 1908 (CPC) were referenced.
Pronouncing the order today, CJI Gogoi observed that nothwithstanding the lack of consensus between the parties, the Court found no legal impediment to invoke the procedure for mediation under Section 89 of the CPC. The Court thus referred the dispute between the parties to mediation for reaching a settlement and resolving the dispute. It was further noted that the applicability of the provisions of the CPC that were relied upon by the parties would be dealt with at an appropriate stage, should a settlement be reached.
The Court accordingly ordered as follows: