Who is Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla, man appointed to head “Ayodhya Mediation Panel” ?

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New Delhi: For eight weeks beginning March 15, a three-member panel of mediators will attempt to arrive at a ‘permanent solution’ to the decades-old Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute in Ayodhya.

A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court on Friday appointed Justice (Retd) Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla as the head of the panel which will also include spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and mediation expert Sriram Panchu.

It was in April 2012 that Justice Kalifulla was elevated as a Supreme Court judge, but it was his tenure at the Jammu and Kashmir High Court that makes his stature distinct.

Kalifulla enrolled as an advocate on August 20, 1975, after which he began practising labour law in the law firm TS Gopalan & Co. On March 2, 2000, he was appointed as a judge of the Madras High Court.

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. In September 2011, he was named as the Chief Justice of High Court of Jammu and Kashmir. On April 2, 2012, he was elevated to the Supreme Court of India and sworn in by then Chief Justice Sarosh Homi Kapadia.

At his farewell function organized by the Supreme Court Bar Association, it was stated that it was Justice Kalifulla who had played a vital role in suggesting the way forward for the case on BCCI administration by providing “valuable insights”.

“While deciding the BCCI matter, I felt like I was sitting beside a former Indian cricket captain. That was the extent of the insight provided by Kalifulla. He has so much insight into the working of the BCCI. I am eternally grateful to him for helping me and the game as such in regaining its glory. Nothing is forever, nothing is eternal. But I think my short association with Justice Kalifulla will stay forever,” then CJI Justice Thakur had said.

Thakur also recalled that Kalifulla had travelled across Jammu and Kashmir to ensure that the common man has access to justice. “He travelled from one corner of the state to another. He established legal aid clinics which generated so much of confidence among the people of the state. That there is a man who is the Chief Justice and who takes the trouble and risks because travelling in Kashmir to small places, which are affected, is not free from risk,” he had said.

After assuming office, the learned Judge had delivered several landmark verdicts. One related to introduction of Vedic astrology as a course of scientific study in Indian universities, which had the seal of approval of the Supreme Court.

Another important case was elections to the Chennai City Corporation. Sitting in a division bench, he rendered a dissenting judgment, holding that the election in respect to 99 wards was liable to be set aside. The matter was referred to a third judge, who also confirmed the view of Justice Kalifulla.


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