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Supreme Court Ordered Mediation in the Ayodhya Title Suit Under the Chairmanship of Justice FM Khalifulah

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The Supreme Court on Friday ordered mediation to settle the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute. A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi passed the order to this effect.

The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court on Friday appointed Justice (Retd) Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla as the head of the panel which will also include spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and mediation expert Sriram Panchu.

For eight weeks beginning March 15, a three-member panel of mediators will attempt to arrive at a ‘permanent solution’ to the decades-old Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute in Ayodhya.

The top court directed both parties to maintain utmost confidentiality during the process of mediation, which will be held in-camera. There ought not to be any reporting in print or electronic of the mediation process, the court said.

The court is hearing petitions challenging a 2010 Allahabad high court order that trifurcated the 2.77-acre-site between the Nirmohi Akhara, the Sunni Central Waqf Board, and Ram Lalla (the child deity).

The court is also considering a petition by the Centre, which wants to release 67.7 acres of land acquired in 1993 around the site — except for .303 acres on which the actual disputed structure stood — to its original owners.

Justice FM Kalifulla, 68, is the son of Late Justice M Fakkir Mohamed, who started his career as an advocate in August 1975. He was also an active labour law practitioner. In 2000, Justice Kalifulla was appointed as a permanent Judge of the Madras High Court. Justice Kalifulla was elevated as a judge of the Supreme Court on April 2, 2012.

“I understand the Supreme Court has appointed a mediation committee headed by me. I’m yet to receive the order copy. I can say if a committee has been constituted we’ll make every effort to resolve the issue amicably,” Justice Kalifulla told reporters after the top court’s order.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, 62, is a spiritual guru, who has been leading a worldwide movement for a violence-free society. Sri Sri had been advocating constructive dialogue between the opposing parties on Ram Mandir issue.

Sri Sri took to Twitter and said, “Respecting everyone, turning dreams to reality, ending long-standing conflicts happily and maintaining harmony in society – we must all move together towards these goals.”

Sriram Panchu, 69, is a senior advocate and mediator. Founder of The Mediation Chambers – India’s first court-annexed mediation centre in 2005 – he played a key role in making mediation a part of India’s legal system. After being appointed as a mediator, Mr Panchu said, “It is a very serious responsibility given to me by the Hon’ble Supreme Court. I will do my best.”

Mr Panchu has written several books on mediation. The top court had referred to him as an “eminent trainer” and “one of the foremost mediators in the country”.

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