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Supreme Court reserves order on going for court-monitored mediation in Ayodhya dispute



Ayodhya dispute


Justices SA Bobde and DY Chandrachud differ in open court on whether mediation outcome will be binding on the community at large

The Supreme Court tiday (Wednesday, March 6) reserved its order on whether the politically-sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute land dispute can be settled through  court-monitored mediation.

A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and also comprising Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer heard submissions from various Hindu and Muslim bodies involved in the matter.

The Bench had, on February 26, indicated its desire for sending the dispute for court-monitored mediation.

The Bench said the case was not only about property but also about sentiment and faith. “It is not only about property. It is about mind, heart and healing, if possible,” it added.  “We are not concerned about what Mughal ruler Babar had done and what happened after. We can go into what exists in the present moment,” the Bench said.

The top court had asked the contesting parties to explore the possibility of amicably settling the decades-old dispute through mediation, saying it may help in “healing relations.”

As many as 14 appeals have been filed in the top court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara, and Ram Lalla.

The highlight of today’s proceedings, however, was the gentle sparring between Justices Bobde and Chandrachud who clearly appeared divided on whether an outcome achieved through mediation will be binding on the communities (Hindu and Muslim) at large or just to the petitioners in the case.

As the proceedings commenced, counsel for some of the Hindu parties in the case submitted before the Bench that there was “no question of a compromise” through a mediation process and any outcome of such an effort will not be agreeable to the public at large. They added that even if the court was desirous of sending the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi title suit into mediation once again, a public notice to the effect will first need to be issued inviting views.

Justice Bobde, who during the last hearing in the case had surprised all parties in the suit by suggesting a renewed effort for arbitration, stood his ground and said “it is not fair to pre-judge the issue and say mediation will be a failure even before it begins… This is a dispute about sentiments, about faith.”

Reiterating his earlier stance that the court views the suit as a way of “healing relationships” and “not just a property dispute”, Justice Bobde said: “It is about mind, heart and healing relationships. We are also conscious of gravity of the issue and its impact on the body politic. Don’t think you (counsels objecting to the mediation process) have more faith than us.”

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for one of the key Muslim petitioners in the case, informed the court that he was open to a court-monitored mediation and added that “consent of all parties isn’t a requirement to order mediation.” Dhavan added that “only arbitration and not any other alternate dispute resolution needs consent”.

Justice Bobde reiterated that if the court does indeed invoke Section 89 of the Code of Civil Procedure to order mediation, “maintaining confidentiality of the process would be very important.” He then wondered what the court would be bound to do “if someone who the parties have spoken to leaks it (details of the mediation) out.”

Indicating that the media will be barred from reporting on the mediation process if the court orders such an effort, Justice Bobde asked: “How can we stop the media from reporting about it”, to which Dhavan replied: “there can be a specific order to this effect.”

Justice Bobde reiterated that “confidentiality is essential” and “it is necessary that it is not written about in the media while it is in process.”

As remarks by Justice Bobde and submissions of senior advocate Dhavan gave an impression that the court was inclined towards sending the suit for mediation, Justice Chandrachud pointed out that the case is not just a dispute between parties but a dispute involving two communities. “How do we bind millions of people by way of mediation? It won’t be that simple… Desirability of resolution through peaceful talks is an ideal situation. But, how do we go about it is the real question,” Justice Chandrachud remarked.

The clear dissent from Justice Chandrachud triggered Justice Bobde into offering a long rebuttal. “If a counsel represents a community or a group and accepts for mediation, there cannot be an argument that it (the outcome) will not bind everyone. If it is good for one, it has to be good for another,” Justice Bobde said.

Asserting that if mediation results in a decree then such an order will be legally binding, Justice Bobde added: “Decree passed subsequent to a compromise (mediation) and decree passed subsequent to court proceedings is not different and it has the same effect in law.”

Senior counsel Dhavan then interjected to submit that “there will always be some amount of angst in the people whenever a case like this is decided”, while asking Justice Chandrachud, “why is the court worried about the angst?”

Dhavan then cited the top court’s landmark verdict that quashed the centuries-old ban on entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years into Kerala’s Sabarimala temple – a verdict that was delivered by a bench of which Justice Chandrachud was a part. “Religious sentiments were involved in that case too but the Supreme Court still passed an order,” Dhavan pointed out.

Senior advocate CS Vaidyanathan, appearing for the infant Lord Ram (Ram Lalla Virajman), a petitioner in the case, told the court that while it was accepted that Ayodhya is the Ram Janmabhoomi, “which is the exact Ram Janmasthan (birthplace) is up to belief and faith and there cannot be any negotiation on that.”

Vaidyanathan reiterated his opposition to mediation while senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, appearing for another Hindu party, joined in and added that the definition of a decree (arrived after mediation) suggests that “it will be binding only on the parties.” Vaidyanathan also told the court that the issue of construction of a Ram Temple at the disputed site is non-negotiable since “it is an issue of faith for the Hindus and we are even willing to crowd fund for construction of a mosque somewhere else.”

Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi then responded to the submission saying: “you are suggesting that the result of mediation might be stillborn.”

The proceedings also saw a minor verbal duel between Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and Dhavan. As Mehta began his submissions, opposing an order favouring mediation, the Chief Justice asked him who he was appearing for.

When Mehta responded that he was appearing for the State of Uttar Pradesh, Dhavan said he is opposed to the Solicitor General’s submissions on behalf of the Uttar Pradesh government since the counsel for the State of UP had earlier told the Allahabad High Court that they are not an interested party in the case.

The court later reserved its verdict on whether to send the suit for court-ordered mediation on not.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

India News

Former CJI Justice MN Venkatachaliah to launch India Legal App tomorrow

The India Legal App will be launched by former Chief Justice of India Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah, who is also the Chief Patron of India Legal magazine,  in Bengaluru. Several legal luminaries of the country will attend the event online in a webinar.



India Legal app launch

The India Legal Research Foundation will on Saturday, June 10, launch the much-awaited multilingual India Legal App, a path-breaking legal helpline that allows every citizen of India to access high calibre legal help from the safety of her/his home at the touch of a button.

The India Legal App will be launched by former Chief Justice of India Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah, who is also the Chief Patron of India Legal magazine,  in Bengaluru. Several legal luminaries of the country will attend the event online in a webinar.

Former Chief Justice of India Justice U.U. Lalit, Attorney General R. Venkataramani, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, Senior Advocate and Balaji Foundation Chairperson Pradeep Rai, National Law University Delhi Vice Chancellor Prof (Dr) GS Bajpai, Former IIM Bangalore Dean Prof Trilochan Sastry, Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association President Manoj K. Mishra and India Legal Editor-in-Chief Inderjit Badhwar will take part in the webinar. The event will be livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube on the India Legal and APN News accounts.

The India Legal App intends to change the way legal aid is made available to the people. The app gives ease of access, as a person can have a jargon-free discussion on complex matters with lawyers.

The complete assurance of privacy and easy payment methods is certain to make the legal experience of people very different from interminable hassles they may have heard about.

The app can be used in 6 Indian languages,  including English, Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali and Punjabi.  

The app is also useful in times of distress as a person sensing trouble or threat can contact a legal ‘friend’ till the time the police arrives.

Lawyers associated with the India Legal App assure to help people 24×7, ready to guide them through extremely tough situations, wherever they are in the country.

The India Legal App is an embodiment of trust and faith. Any individual can install this app on their mobile and directly communicate with a lawyer.

Slowly, this facility will extend to even those without mobile phones. They can avail of this service through their nearest common service centres, or Jan Suvidha Kendra/Setu/e-Seva Kendra/Pragya Kendra.

The service will be available at a reasonable cost, which can then also be paid at that service centre.

The India Legal App services include:

  • 1. Free legal advice over the phone.
  • 2. Payment of a specified amount for legal advice through audio and video calls.
  • 3. Payment of a specified amount for document preparation.
  • 4. Payment of annual membership fees to receive legal services.

Additionally, the India Legal App provides legal information and related videos to ensure users of the India Legal App are well-informed about legal matters.

India Legal is a respected politico-legal weekly magazine (both print and online) in the country, with complete professional journalistic and expert inputs. Its readers include lawyers, law firms and those related to the judiciary and justice system.

The India Legal Research Foundation (ILRF) is a non-profit organisation equipped with senior lawyers and devoted to bring justice to those who deserve it, but cannot afford it. ILRF provides free legal aid to the deserving and people in need.

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Karnataka News

Karnataka removes chapters on RSS founder Hedgewar from school books, BJP leaders protest

Union Minister Rajeev Chandrashekhar said the alleged removal of the chapters on the RSS founder was a crime against Youth.



Karnataka removes chapters on RSS founder Hedgewar from school books,BJP leaders protest

The BJP and the Congress are divided over the inclusion of RSS founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar in chapters of school textbooks in Karnataka.

Union Minister Rajeev Chandrashekhar said the alleged removal of the chapters on the RSS founder was a crime against Youth. The BJP has hit out at the Karnataka government demanding an apology that it is distorting history.

BJP Leader CN Ashwath Narayan said the Congress should take its time and should not take decisions in a hurry. He further added, as a government it should take into account the concerns of all sections of the society.

While the Congress MLC BK Hari Prasad said the Karnataka government will not include chapters on the RSS founder because he considered him as a coward and a fake freedom fighter.

Karnataka Education minister Madhu Bangarappa said the school syllabus will be changed from this year itself. He said old textbooks would not be recalled but supplementary textbooks will be sent to the teachers explaining what topics to be taught and what topics to be left out.

He said the changes in the syllabus was being made keeping in mind the future of the children. He added, the Congress had already made the announcement in the pre election manifesto itself.

He did not go into the details and said a special technical team is going to handle the process of revision of the textbooks.

The Congress had promised in thier election manifesto that they would remove the National Education Policy. He also added, the changes in the syllabus would be minimum so that no inconvenience is caused to the students in their studies.

The technical team will give their suggestions and recommendations which will be sent to the Education Minister.The Minister will discuss the changes in the syllabus with the cabinet members. This process will take 10-15 days.

After winning the recent held state election, the Congress said they are going to change the syllabus of the textbooks. They said they are not going to allow texts and lessons to poison the minds of their children.   

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India News

Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann says Punjab government will buy Goindwal thermal plant

Mann said the remaining coal will be used in Goindwal thermal plant which will lead to cheaper source of electricity.



Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann says Punjab government will buy Goindwal thermal plant

Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann has announced the Punjab government will buy Goindwal thermal plant. He said the government has coal stored only for 45 more days.

Mann said the remaining coal will be used in Goindwal thermal plant which will lead to cheaper source of electricity. Makind a veiled attack on the BJP, Mann said some governments sell state assets but the AAP government buys private assets.

Earlier Mann had said there was a requirement of 1000 mega-watt electricity for cultivation of paddy. The Indian Meteorogical Department (IMD) has stated there will be less rainfall this year in Punjab, hence, there will be greater dependency on electricity for agriculture.

Mann had even written a letter to Union Power Minister R K Singh stating about the shortage of electricity in the state. If there is less rainfall then the cultivation of paddy will get affected.   Although, the Union government has not responded to the problem of Punjab yet.

Mann said Goindwal Power plant is being bought on a private basis hence tender will be floated among the bidders for the plant. The Goindwal Power plant is on the verge of bankruptcy. He said the plant will be bought and will be made operational again. The power plant has a capacity of 540 mega-watt. Reports said, this will not have any impact on the present electricity production in the state.

An agreement will be made between the Punjab State Power Corporation and the bidder who wins the tender.

A cabinet panel will be called for the bidding to take place. According to reports, about 12 parties have come forward to buy the Thermal Power Plant. PSPCL is one of the twelve parties bidding for the Goindwal thermal power plant.

Punjab Power Minister Harbajan Singh ETO, Finance Minister Harpal Cheema and Agriculture Minister Gurmeet Singh Khuddian will part of the Cabinet to carry out the bidding process.

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