Ayodhya Case: Complete Arguments By Oct. 18, Not A Day Extra, Supreme Court Tells Parties
The Supreme Court asked both Hindu and Muslim parties on Thursday to specify the time-frame for completing arguments in the politically sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case and said there will not be any extra day for hearing after Oct. 18.
"There will not be any extra day after Oct. 18. It will be miraculous, if we deliver the judgement in four weeks in the matter," said Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, who is set to retire on Nov. 17.
CJI-headed five-judge bench, also comprising Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer, asked the Muslim parties to wrap up their arguments on the Archaeological Survey of India report during the course of the day and continue to other arguments.
It said there are holidays in October for Dussehra and Diwali and only one advocate of the four Hindu parties will be allowed to give the rejoinder arguments.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, who is appearing for the Muslim parties, suggested that the extra-one hour arrangement of hearings till 5 p.m. should continue.
The CJI told the lawyers appearing for parties who wanted to intervene that "we will go on hearing the arguments. If any new point is there you can make your submission at the rejoinder stage. Enough is enough, today is 32nd day of hearing in the matter, we cannot allow this plea or that".
On Sept. 18, the top court had set Oct. 18 as deadline for conclusion of hearings land title dispute, which raised the possibility of a verdict in the case by mid-November.
The apex court had also said the parties to the dispute can amicably resolve the matter through mediation if they wanted to, but the lawyers must conclude the day-to-day hearings by Oct. 18 so that the judges get about four weeks to write the judgment.
It had said that the day-to-day proceedings in the land dispute case have reached "an advanced stage" and will continue.
The apex court had on Aug. 6 commenced day-to-day proceedings in the case as the mediation proceedings initiated to find the amicable resolution had failed.
The court had taken note of the report of the three-member panel, also comprising spiritual guru and founder of the Art of Living foundation Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate and renowned mediator Sriram Panchu, that mediation proceedings, which went on for about four months, did not result in any final settlement and it had to decide the matter pending before it.
The court, which had on March 8 referred the matter for mediation, had asked for in-camera proceedings to be completed within eight weeks, but later granted time till Aug. 15 after the panel's earlier report said the mediators were "optimistic" about an amicable solution.
The top court fixed the seat for mediation process in Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh, around 7 kilometre from Ayodhya, and said adequate arrangements, including the venue of the mediation, place of stay of the mediators, their security, travel should be forthwith arranged by the state government.
It had perused a report about the progress of mediation process till July 18 and said its contents will remain confidential.
Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties -- the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
On Dec. 6, 1992, the Babri Masjid, constructed at the disputed site in the 16th century by Shia Muslim Mir Baqi, was demolished, sparking communal riots in the country.