In a significant development, the Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the parties to the protracted Ayodhya dispute, involving Ram temple and Babri Masjid, if alternate dispute resolution through mediation was possible for "lasting peace" between the Hindu and Muslim communities.
"We are seriously considering it. It is not a private property dispute, after all it relates to right to worship," a five-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said.
The bench suggested for nominating court-appointed mediators, who would talk to both the parties to resolve the dispute.
We are thinking about its possibility for "healing relationship", the bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer, said.
The court's suggestion was strongly opposed by Hindu sides Ram Lalla, represented by senior advocate C S Vaidyanathan and Ranjit Kumar who said they were not agreeable to it as this has been tried several times in past and failed.
"Things have not worked out. Our view is the matter should get decided. It is not possible and not agreeable," they said.
Senior advocate Sushil Jain, appearing for Nirmohi Akhara, said the mediation can be tried.
Muslims sides led by senior advocates Rajeev Dhavan and Dushyant Dave expressed their agreement for mediation.
"We are seriously considering it. That's something you can explore. We can suggest it has to be confidential. We can appoint mediators. It has to be confidential and no third party comments on mediation," the bench said.
The top court recorded Hindu sides are not agreeable to mediation but the court can invoke its power under Section 89 of Civil Procedure Code for alternate dispute mechanism.
The court told the parties to get themselves satisfied with the translations of documents, within 8 weeks.
It deferred its order on court-appointed mediators until Tuesday next.
Earlier, the top court started the proceedings by handing over a copy of Secretary General's report signed by four registers, showing the extent of spade works undertaken to get the case arising out of 2010 appeals of Allahabad High Court judgement, ready for hearing.
The Muslims sides complained they were not sure of accuracy of translation of documents undertaken by the Uttar Pradesh government. The Hindu sides said the works related to translations were done in 2017 and the contention was not bona fide