Mediation in Religious Disputes
Solving disputes via alternate dispute redressal processes forms the current trend. Arbitration, mediation, and negotiation were usually undertaken in commercial contracts for saving the time and money expenditure caused due to the long and hefty litigation processes. But as the time involved these ways have crossed the boundaries of their ‘commercial dispute solving’ aspect and are readily used by litigators and the courts as well to solves matter related to religion etc. The most significant example for the same is the Ram Janmabhoomi- Babri Masjid dispute, where the supreme court sought to mediation and established a panel for the same to solve the ages long altercation. The mediation panel was headed by former Supreme Court judge F M I Kalifulla and had Spiritual Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and famous mediator Sriram Panchu as its other members. This panel was constituted keeping the sentiments and representations of both the religions in mind. The process was not successful, and the case was decided in the apex court. But the question regarding the constitution of the panel is quite pertinent and still exists. India, being a land of diverse cultures and religions, how would a mediation panel for a case involving two different communities be constituted here. We have no specific layout for the same and thus, for this case and for the ones shortly the panel would be formed just based on the judicial expertise of the judges. At present when we are entering the era where the process of mediation is being chosen over the litigation, we need to have some standard guidelines about such issues. Few suggestions for the same can be taken from the article ‘Selecting Mediators and Representing Clients in Cross-Cultural Disputes’ written by Harold Abramson, where he states basic qualifications for a person who has to act as mediation in such cross-cultural or cross-religious disputes. These range from- the mediator having sufficient and accurate knowledge about both the contending parties, mediation knowing his conscience well so that his personal lens doesn’t affect the process, he should generalize the whole community as one and rather work on the intricate issues involved. Though religious leaders are considered to be the best candidate for mediators, their little knowledge about the other party and inherent bias may have adverse effects on the process. These principles can be undertaken while forming the panel. By a standardized process, we aren’t implying a quite stringent rulebook as all the processes are different and no two can follow the same way of dealing, but yet basic guidelines might help make this process a more refined and fruitful one.