In a move apparently aimed at quickening the hearing process in the Ramjanambhoomi-Babri Masjid case, Supreme Court Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on Wednesday said that arguments have to be completed by October 18 even as the mediation panel may continue its work under confidentiality.
"As per the estimate of tentative dates to finish the hearing in the case, we can say that the submissions have to be likely completed by October 18," said the CJI, who heads the five-judge constitution bench hearing the case. He is set to demit office on November 17,
The mediation panel can submit a report whatever be the outcome of it after the process, the court observed. The mediation panel report will be submitted by Justice (Retd) FMI Khalifullah-led three member panel to the Apex Court in a sealed cover.
"If in the meantime, the parties desire to settle the matter, including, by resort to mediation, by the earlier constituted mediation panel, they may do so and place the settlement before the court, if reached, the court observed.
"We also make it clear that the terms and the process of settlement including mediation, if resorted to, will abide by our earlier order dated March 8 with regard to confidentiality," the court said.
There is no deadline for the mediation panel, the apex court said. But at the same time, the hearing in the Supreme Court will continue as per schedule.
The apex court gave a go-ahead to the conduct the mediation panel as two parties--- UP Sunni Waqf Board and Nirmoni Akhada - wanted the mediation process to continue.
Besides these two parties, no one else has shown any interest in mediation.
The court observed that the hearing of the appeals, which is at a very advanced stage, will continue without any interruption.
The dates of finalising the submissions by all the parties were given as October 18, after which the CJI said that the arguments and submissions will likely be completed by the mentioned date.
It is to be noted that Gogoi is set to demit office on November 17 and he has to deliver the judgement before that as he had entirely heard the case from the beginning of the arguments.
The five-judge Constitution bench also said that simultaneously the mediation process can go along with the hearing, which is going on in the top court, and if an amicable settlement is reached through by it, the same can be filed before the court.
On Tuesday, the top court had asked the parties in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute to come up with a tentative time schedule or date when the arguments can be concluded.
On the 25th day of the arguments, a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked all parties to apprise it as to when their arguments are likely to be completed, hinting that the court can pronounce the judgment as submissions are over.
The top court is hearing a batch of petitions filed by -- Hindu and Muslim and others sides -- challenging the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, which divided the disputed site into three equal parts.
The day-to-day hearing started on August 6 after a court-appointed mediation panel failed to resolve the dispute through amicable settlement.
( With inputs from ANI )