The Supreme Court on Friday sent the Ayodhya Dispute for mediation between the parties involved. The mediation process is expected to start within 4 weeks and be completed within 8 weeks.
The mediation process will be headed by retired Justice FM Kalifullah and comprise of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu as its other members. Here, we shall take a look at the background of the panel members.
1. Retired Justice FM Kalifullah
Justice Fakkir Mohammed Kalifullah, who is from Tamil Nadu, started his career in law at Chennai. In the year 2000, he was appointed a judge of the Madras High Court. Later, he served as the Chief Justice of the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir. He was elevated to the Supreme Court in 2012.
One of the landmark judgments of the retired Justice’s career was when he upheld the introduction of Vedic Astrology as a course of scientific study in Indian Universities. He also wrote the judgment for the Supreme Court order on the reformation of the BCCI. He retired from the Supreme Court on the 22nd of July, 2016.
2. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Sri Sri is the founder of the Art of Living Foundation and is one of the most widely followed spiritual Gurus. The official website of AOL describes him as a “humanitarian leader, spiritual teacher, and an ambassador of peace.”
For quite some time, Sri Sri has made much effort to reach a negotiated settlement over the Ayodhya dispute. The AIMPLB has even expelled a member, Salman Nadwi, for holding discussions with the spiritual leader regarding the issue. Reportedly, Nadwi had offered to support the Mandir if Hindus give up claims to all other disputed Masjids.
It had caused an outrage with the Nirmohi Akhara, a petitioner for the Ram Temple at Ram Janmabhoomi, and BJP MP Subramanian Swamy rejecting any such offer. The Art of Living Foundation had come out and denied any such ‘deal’. Some had also raised questions regarding Sri Sri negotiating with Nadwi considering the latter had supported ISIS in the past.
Last year, in November, we had reported that Muslim petitioners in the matter had voiced their support for Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s out of court settlement efforts.
3. Sriram Panchu
Senior Advocate Sriram Panchu is a founder of The Mediation Chambers and has earned himself a reputation for making mediation an instrumental part of India’s legal system. He is the author of the book ‘Mediation Practice and Law: The Path to Successful Dispute Resolution’.
As per Google Books, the book “brings out the art, techniques and skills of mediation. The author walks the reader through a full-length mediation with notes to illustrate different stages. The book also shows how mediators should deal with seemingly dead-end situations and prescribes norms of confidentiality and ethics.”
Panchu is the president of the Association of Indian Mediators and a director on the board of the International Mediation Institute (IMI). He is credited with setting up India’s first court-annexed mediation centre in 2005 and is regarded as instrumental in making mediation a part of India’s legal system.
In the past, Panchu has been appointed as a mediator to resolve a 500 sq km dispute between Assam and Nagaland. The Supreme court has described Panchu as “one of the foremost mediators in the country”.
Apart from the three mediators mentioned here, the Supreme Court in its order has allowed for the induction of more members in the panel for mediation of the dispute. The proceedings will take place at Ayodhya and the Uttar Pradesh state government has been directed to extend all possible facilities for the purpose.