7 PM I Analysing effectiveness of Mediation in Ram mandir dispute | 11 March, 2019

All important events of Ayodhya Ramjanambhumi-Babri masjid case

Although there has been protests and demands for Ram mandir even before 1986, but main events start from 1980’s

1986: Faizabad district court orders the gates of the mosque be opened and Hindus be allowed to worship there. Muslims protest the move and forms Babri Mosque Action Committee.

1989: Faizabad district court orders the gates of the mosque be opened and Hindus be allowed to worship there. Muslims protest the move and forms Babri Mosque Action Committee.

1990: Then BJP President L K Advani launches his Rath Yatra

1992: The disputed Babri Mosque is razed to the ground by karsevaks.

2002: Three-judge Bench of high court begins hearing to determine the ownership of land. The HC orders the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to excavate the site to determine if it was a temple earlier.

2003: ASI finds evidence of the presence of a temple under the mosque. Muslim organisations dispute the findings

2010: The HC rules the disputed land be divided into three parts — one-third to Ram Lalla Virajman, represented by the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha; one-third to the Sunni Waqf Board; and the remaining to the Nirmohi Akhara. In December, the parties move the SC

2011: The SC stays the HC order

2018: The Supreme Court decides that the land dispute case will only be listed before an “appropriate Bench” in January 2019.

2019: The Supreme Court sets up a five-judge Constitution Bench to hear the land dispute case.

March, 2019: Supreme Court ordered the mediation as a resolution to the dispute and formed e members mediation panel.

Members: The chairman, Justice Kalifulla, has served at the Supreme Court with distinction. Sreeram Panchu is a senior advocate who has pioneered mediation as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism in this country. Sri Sri Ravishankar has come a long way from his initial days with Mahesh Yogi.

Time limit: The panel has to hold sittings in Faizabad and submit a status report within four weeks and try to resolve the issue within eight weeks.

What is mediation?

A mediation is a party-centred and structured negotiation process where a neutral third party assists the parties in amicably resolving their disputes. Even though the mediator facilitates their communication and negotiations, the parties always retain control over the outcome of the dispute.

Legal provisions regarding Mediation

Section 89 of Civil Procedure Code

In 1999, the Indian Parliament passed the CPC Amendment Act of 1999 inserting Sec.89 in the Code of Civil Procedure 1908.

it mandates that where it appears to the Court that there exists an element of settlement which may be acceptable to the parties, the Court shall formulate the terms of settlement and after receiving comments of the parties may reformulate the terms of possible settlement after which parties may be referred to arbitration, conciliation, judicial settlement or mediation.

Arbitration and conciliation act 1996

The Indian parliament enacted the Arbitration and Conciliation Act in 1996. The Act provided for the commencement of conciliation proceedings, appointment of conciliators and assistance of suitable institution for the purpose of recommending the names of the conciliators.

It also defines the role of conciliator in assisting the parties in negotiating settlement of disputes between the parties.

Difference between Judicial process and mediation

Reasons for accepting mediation mechanism

Court has accepted that Conventional legal and constitutional tools are powerless in the face of faith.

Law Commission of India in its 129th report had “recommended the introduction of the conciliation court system and had underlined the importance of conciliation/ mediation as a mode of ADR”.

Why mediation is not a good idea?

Mediation as a medium of settlement is not new. Supreme Court has also used it before

  • In Bhopal Gas tragedy, Mediation was ordered in which Union of India and Union carbide were parties. The settlement absolved Union Carbide of all criminal and civil liabilities for a sum of $450 million. Although criminal proceedings were restored after protests by victims.
  • The six-decade-old Babri masjid dispute has witnessed several serious mediations attempts to find a way out, none of which yielded any result.
  • There will also be the issue of choosing mediators, having universal acceptability among the population they are representing.
  • Putting the responsibility of finding a solution on few people make them an easy political target in case of adverse decision.
  • There is very less chances of any resolution to come out as none of the party want to compromise due to political and religious pressure owing to an absence of consensus and coordination thus dragging the matter indefinitely.

Why Mediation is a good idea?

  • Without negotiations and settlements there are chances that Court’s order would be violated and misused for achieving their selfish and sinister objective by some elements, thus reaching an agreement by talks can resolve this issue amicably.
  • Court’s order not to report the proceeding is a nice idea to keep the issue from politicisation.
  • To keep the parties insulated from outside interference, the court has directed an ‘in-camera’ process to ensure that the progress of the negotiations is known only to the parties concerned.
  • Keeping out political and electorate consideration would be important and that is possible only through a peaceful solution.

After analysing the graveness and vain efforts in this case, trying to bring a peaceful settlement is a welcoming step. Now it needs to be ensured that none of the party is influenced by outside power and space has been given to the parties to find a rationale decision.

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