Ayodhya title case: Owaisi raises concerns over Sri Sri Ravi Shankar as part of mediation panel, expects him to be neutral

Hyderabad: AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi on Friday raised concerns over the appointment of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar as one of the mediators in the Supreme Court-appointed and monitored mediation panel in the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case.

“Sri Sri Ravi Shankar who has been appointed as a mediator, his stated position is in public domain wherein he had threatened the Muslims and said if Muslims don’t give up their claim on Ayodhya, India will become Syria. It would have been better if the Supreme Court had appointed a neutral person,” said Owaisi.

“This is regrettable that the Supreme Court has appointed such a mediator who is not a neutral person and his statement is on record. However, we expect him to be neutral,” he added.

Owaisi further said that he does not have any problem with other mediators (retired apex court judge FM Kalifulla and senior advocate Sriram Panchu) as they don’t have any statement on record like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

When asked about the effect on mediation on upcoming Lok Sabha elections, Owaisi said, “It is a good thing that the mediation process will be kept confidential. Otherwise, politicians will try to take mileage of it. If there is a leak which is against the government (BJP) then they will threaten with Official Secret Act. Everything is possible, BJP will do anything. The court has explicitly said that it will be kept confidential, if anybody violated it they will be charged with contempt of court.”

“If anyone asks votes in the name of temple or masjid, it would also be a violation of model code of conduct,” he added.

On the timing of the mediation process, as the court has asked it to be completed in eight weeks, Owaisi said, “Mediation is only an interim report. This is not arbitration where both parties put forward their views and the court gives the ruling.”

Earlier in the day, a Constitution bench of the Supreme Court referred the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case for court-appointed and monitored mediation, while imposing media ban on its coverage.

Retired top court judge FM Kalifulla will be the chairman of the panel, said a five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.

The panel will also include Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu, it said.

In its order, the bench said that the mediation proceedings will be held in-camera in Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh and the state government will provide mediators with all the facilities as required. Court has also stated that the mediators can seek further legal assistance as and when required.

The Constitution Bench has said that the mediation process shall begin in a week and a progress report should be filed within four weeks. The court has also ordered the mediation process to be completed in eight weeks.

The apex court also said that there will be no media reporting of the mediation proceedings.

“The court-monitored mediation proceedings will be confidential,” Justice Gogoi said.