Ayodhya case must be finished by October 18: SC sets final deadline

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NEW DELHI: The hearings on Ayodhya land dispute case must be completed by October 18, the Supreme Court said today, asserting that if the petitioners want, they can settle the temple-mosque dispute through mediation. The court also said daily hearings will continue in the case.

"If parties are desirous of settling the matter through mediation, they can do so," the Supreme Court said on the 26th day of the daily hearings. The judgement has to be delivered before Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi retires on November 17.

All petitioners had been asked to submit a time schedule required to complete their arguments. The top court, after going through their reports, said the arguments could be completed by October 18. "Let us make a joint effort to conclude the same by October 18," said the Chief Justice.

Last month, the court had said the mediation process had failed to deliver a solution and declared daily hearings from August 6. "Mediation didn't result in any kind of settlement," said Chief Justice Gogoi had said in a six-minute hearing.

The three-member panel appointed by the Supreme Court earlier this year to consult with various groups for a solution to the dispute "did its best to arrive at a consensus" but "some parties" did not agree to the mediation, sources had said.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by the Chief Justice had on July 11 sought an update on the mediation and said they could start day-to-day hearings from July 25 if there was no merit in continuing the process. The panel had been granted time till August 15 but the court, acting on the request of one of the litigants, said it would decide whether mediation should continue.

The panel comprising former Supreme Court judge FM Kalifulla, spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu started consultations in March.

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