Editor's Note: This piece was originally published on 8 March, 2019, when the Supreme Court appointed the three-member mediation panel in a bid to resolve the long-standing Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid dispute in Ayodhya. It is being republished today ahead of a hearing in the apex court on whether to grant an early hearing in the case, as a plea has claimed that the mediation process has been "ineffective".
The Supreme Court on 8 March ordered mediation in the Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid dispute and asked the court-appointed mediation panel to file the final status report in eight weeks. The mediation will take place in Uttar Pradesh's Faizabad and the three mediators or the members of the panel include: Former Supreme Court judge FM Kalifulla, spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Shriram Panchu.
Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla, FM Kalifulla, is a former judge of the Supreme Court. He was born on 23 July 1951, in Karaikudi, Sivagangai district of Tamil Nadu.
Kalifulla enrolled as an advocate on 20 August 1975, after which he began practising labour law in the law firm of TS Gopalan and Co and was an active labour law practitioner who also appeared for various public and private sector undertakings. On 2 March, 2000, he was appointed as a permanent judge of the Madras High Court.
Thereafter, in February 2011, he became a member of the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and was appointed to serve as the acting chief justice two months later. On 18 September, 2011, he was named as the Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court. And on 2 April, 2012, he was elevated to the Supreme Court of India, sworn in by Chief Justice Sarosh Homi Kapadia.
Justice Kalifulla retired from the Supreme Court of India on 22 July, 2016.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a globally revered spiritual and humanitarian leader. He has spearheaded an unprecedented worldwide movement for a stress-free, violence-free society.
Founder of The Art of Living organisation, Sri Sri " through a myriad of programs and teachings " has reached an estimated 370 million people. He has developed unique, impactful programs that empower, equip and transform individuals to tackle challenges at global, national, community and individual levels.
Born in 1956 in Southern India, Sri Sri holds degrees in, both, Vedic literature and physics. In 1982, he entered a ten-day period of silence in Shimoga located in the Indian state of Karnataka.
In 1997, he also founded the International Association for Human Values (IAHV) to coordinate sustainable development projects, nurture human values and coordinate conflict resolution in association with The Art of Living. Sri Sri has played vital roles in peace negotiations globally.
He has been conferred with numerous awards around the globe, including the highest civilian award of Colombia, Mongolia, and Paraguay and also Padma Vibhushan " India's highest annual award " for exceptional and distinguished service, along with 16 honorary doctorates globally.
Sriram Panchu is a senior advocate and mediator. He is the founder of The Mediation Chambers, which offers services in mediation and med-arb and the president of the Association of Indian Mediators, along with being a director on the board of the International Mediation Institute (IMI). He set up India's first court-annexed mediation centre in 2005, and has been instrumental in making mediation a part of India's legal system.
Panchu has mediated a large number of complex and high-value disputes across the range of commercial, corporate and contractual disputes in different parts of India. These include construction and property development, insolvency and winding up, property disputes, family business conflict, intellectual property and information technology disputes. He has also mediated international commercial disputes.
He is a certified mediator on the panel of the Singapore International Mediation Centre. He was appointed by India's Supreme Court to mediate a 500 square kilometre dispute between the states of Assam and Nagaland, and another public dispute involving the Parsi community in Bombay.
He combines mediation and arbitration and has developed innovative methods that are user-friendly and ensure finality of result with the best possible solution. He has also authored two books on mediation. The Supreme Court of India referred to him as a "distinguished mediator", "eminent trainer" and "one of the foremost mediators in the country".
Globally, Panchu has broad experience in mediating disputes between parties of different cultures and nationalities. He mediated the Standard Motors case which recorded one of the highest settlements in court-annexed mediations. In the private mediation field, he has handled disputes involving major enterprises.
Apart from his conventional law practice and mediation, he has done a number of public interest cases in the fields of good governance, curbing corruption, environmental protection and consumer rights.