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After examining the report submitted by the mediation panel it had set up for resolving Ayodhya dispute, the Supreme Court today (Thursday, July 18) asked it to continue the mediation process till July 31 and file a report on its status by August 1.

The court will take a call on whether to have day-to-day hearings following the submission of this report.

A Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and also comprising Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and Abdul Nazeer, said that, depending on the report, hearing on appeals against the September 2010 judgment of the Allahabad High Court will begin on August 2.

On July 11, the apex court had sought a report from the panel, headed by former SC Judge FM Ibrahim Kalifulla, with spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, senior advocate Sriram Panchu as the other two members.

It had given them time to file a status report on mediation process by today(July 18) and had said daily hearing on the appeals challenging the Allahabad High Court verdict will likely commence on July 25 in case the mediation efforts are not making progress and have to be concluded.

The SC Bench passed the order while hearing an application filed by a legal heir of one of the original litigants, Gopal Singh Visharad, seeking a judicial decision on the dispute and conclusion of the mediation process, alleging that “nothing much was happening” in the mediation process prescribed by the courtand urged it to declare “that the mediation proceedings… have been concluded” so that hearing on the appeals can start.

The bench had also said that the court would pass appropriate orders on 18 July after perusing the report filed by the mediation committee.

The mediation committee accordingly submitted its report which the court considered today.

Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said, “We now fix the date of the hearing as 2 August. We request the mediation committee to inform the outcome of the proceedings by 31 July,” reported news agency ANI.

The court also said that it will not put on record contents of the mediation report since it was to remain confidential.

On September 30, 2010, the Allahabad High Court had awarded a third each of the disputed 2.77 acres at the Ram JanmabhoomiBabri Masjid site to the Nirmohi Akhara sect, the Sunni Central Wakf Board, Uttar Pradesh and the idol Ramlalla Virajman. Appeals have been filed in the Supreme Court against this verdict.

The top court had ordered mediation in the matter on March 8, and observed that the issue is not about 1,500 square feet land, but about religious sentiments. The bench said it was conscious of the gravity and impact of the issue on “public sentiment” and also on the “body politic of the country”.

The bench had also asked the panel to complete the mediation process within eight weeks.On May 10, the court extended the time given to the mediation committee till August 15.

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