Led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, a five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court, on Friday sent the Ayodhya dispute for mediation in camera.
It appointed a panel of mediators, with former judge of the apex court Justice F.M.I. Kalifulla as its chairman and comprising spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu, a pioneer in alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
The mediation would start in a week’s time in Faizabad district of Uttar Pradesh.
Stressing upon the requirement for “utmost confidentiality” in the conduct of mediation to ensure its success, the court asked the media to refrain from reporting on the proceedings.
“We are of the further opinion that while the mediation proceedings are being carried out, there ought not to be any reporting of the said proceedings either in print or electronic media,” it said.
However, it stopped short of passing any specific gag order on the median
While giving eight-week time for mediation, the court has urged the mediators to “conclude the proceedings at the earliest”. The mediators would have to file a status report in the court in four weeks.
The court had invoked Section 89 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) to propose mediation as an “effective utilisation of time” in the interregnum.
The CJI had expressed the hope that mediation may spell a peaceful end to the volatile dispute between the members of the two religious faiths.
The court had pushed for a possible out-of-court settlement despite objections raised by some Hindu parties that their faith in Lord Rama’s birthplace is “non-negotiable.”