The three Supreme Court appointed mediators tasked to find a negotiated settlement of the Ayodhya issue have welcomed the move and said they will do their best.
The three, former Supreme Court judge Fakhir Mohammed Ibrahim Kalifullah, Art of Living Founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu, all from Tamil Nadu, have welcomed the decision.
Justice Kalifullah, who will be heading the panel, has said: “ I will make effort to settle the issue amicably”. During his tenure as judge of the Madras High Court and later as judge and Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court and finally as judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Kalifullah had delivered several major judgments..
Sri Sri Ravishankar always advocated negotiations between Hindus and Muslims on the Babri Masjid- Ram Mandir land dispute. In 2017, he visited Ayodhya and held talks with various parties. He said:”The move towards mediation by Hon Supreme Court is in the best interest of the country. We should not leave any stone unturned to resolve this burning issue amicably. We should put aside our egos and come together in a spirit of accommodating the sentiments of concerned communities”.
Senior advocate Sriram Panchu has a long experience in settling cases out of court through lok adalats ( people’s court) .He is founder of the Mediation Chambers and president of the Association of Indian Mediators. He is also on the board of International Mediation Centre. He was responsible for setting up the court- annexed mediation centre, like the present panel, in 2005.
While welcoming the intent of the Constitution bench of the Supreme Court to find a mediated settlement and expressing happiness that all three are from Tamil Nadu, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi leader Thol Thirumavalavan has said they do not have an open mind on the issue and therefore a new panel should be set up.
In a statement, Thirumavalavan has said Justice Kalifullah had in a judgment said there was nothing wrong in including Vedic astronomy in university syllabus.
He said Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had proposed that the Muslims should give up their rights over the disputed land to facilitate building of a Ram temple and this was rejected outright by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board . He also was hauled up for polluting the Yamuna river bed during one of his mass gatherings. He also courted a controversy over holding a Yoga session in Thanjavur great temple.
As for advocate Sriram Panchu,” he may be a mediation expert but he has no exposure to a politically sensitive issue like Ayodhya”, Thirumavalavan has said .
His suggestion that new mediators should be drafted is unlikely find traction as the panel has been formed by the Constitution bench of the apex court.