The Supreme Court will on Tuesday begin the daily hearings of the Ayodhya land dispute case after a mediation panel set up in March failed to resolve it. A five-judge Constitution bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer will conduct the hearings.
On Monday, the court refused urgent hearing of a plea that sought recording of the day-to-day hearings, but said it would consider it on the administrative side.
The mediation panel – led by retired Supreme Court judge FMI Kalifulla, and comprising spiritual leader Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu – had submitted a status report on July 18. Earlier, the court had asked the committee to expedite the settlement process after Gopal Singh Visharad, one of the original litigants in the case, claimed they had made no progress.
The committee was able to get the moderates from all sides to attempt a negotiation but the hardliners were difficult to manage, according to a news report. The panel could organise only one meeting with all sides present. This meeting was attended by 41 people and was held soon after it was formed on March 8. The panel held several other meetings in various cities but could not bring all sides to the table.
The dispute has been going on for several decades, with both Hindu and Muslim groups claiming their right to the land. The Babri Masjid stood there before it was demolished in 1992 by Hindutva activists. In 2010, the Allahabad High Court had ordered the land to be divided in three equal parts between the Nirmohi Akhara, the Sunni Wakf Board and the representative for the deity Ram. The top court will hear appeals against this verdict.