In a major development in the politically sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case, the Supreme Court on Friday ordered mediation for the ‘permanent solution’ of the issue. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that the mediation process will be held in Faizabad on-camera but barred media from reporting the proceedings. The top court also appointed a three-member panel of mediators headed by Justice FMI Kalifulla. Two other mediators are spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu. The court said that the deliberations of the panel will conclude within eight weeks and the first status report will be submitted in four weeks.
The verdict was given by a five-judge Constitution Bench while hearing a bunch of petitions against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be divided equally among the three parties—the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
Who are the mediators?
Justice FMI Kalifulla
Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim (FMI) Kalifulla is a retired Supreme Court judge. The son of former Madras High Court judge Justice Fakkir Mohamed, Justice Kalifulla had enrolled as a lawyer in 1975. He was elevated to the Supreme Court of India on April 2, 2012. His tenure lasted for around four years before his retirement on July 22, 2016. Justice Kalifulla is known for his landmark judgment for carrying out reforms in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). He also played a crucial role in restoring faith in the minds of Kashmiris by ensuring that the common people of the Valley have access to justice.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a spiritual leader who runs a volunteer-based, humanitarian and educational non-governmental organization (NGO), the Art of Living. Sri Sri has millions of followers across the world. Born in Papanasam, Tamil Nadu to Visalakshi Ratnam and RS Venkat Ratnam, Ravi Shankar holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the St Joseph’s College of Bangalore University. He has previously made efforts towards an ‘out of court settlement’ of the case but his efforts hardly bear any fruits then.
Considered as a pioneer of the mediation movement in India, Sriram Panchu is a senior advocate. He played a crucial role in establishing the country’s first court-annexed mediation center in Madras High Court in 2005 and assisted the Supreme Court of India and several High Courts in setting up mediation centers. He has authored two books on mediation - Settle for More – The Why, How and When of Mediation and Mediation: Practice and Law. A resident of Chennai, Panchu is a renowned member on the panel of international commercial mediators of recognised mediation institutions.