Lucknow: The stage is set for the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court to pronounce its verdict on the controversial legal dispute, which has lasted six decades, over the ownership of the land at Ayodhya after the court on Friday rejected a petition to delay the verdict.
The court is due to pronounce its verdict on 24 September.
Judgement day: The Allahabad high court will give its verdict in the Babri Masjid case on 24 September. Hindustan Times
The plea had been filed by Ramesh Chandra Tripathi, a defendant in one of the four title suits before the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court seeking a mediated settlement in the case. The court has not only refused to defer the verdict saying there was no merit in the plea, but also fined the petitioner.
“The court has dismissed the plea for delaying the verdict exploring the possibility of a dialogue. We were against it from the very beginning. We are happy that the court has not conceded to the demand that has come at the eleventh hour, when the judgement is around the corner. This is a victory for us,” said Harishankar Jain, counsel for the Hindu Maha Sabha, one of the litigants.
Concerned about possible communal tension in the aftermath of the judgement, the Union cabinet passed a resolution appealing for calm, which was published in some newspapers on Friday.
The resolution said “legal remedies” exist for any parties that may be aggrieved by the verdict. A judgement in favour of Hindu groups, who claim ownership of the land on which the 16th century Babri mosque stood until it was torn down on 6 December 1992, may upset Muslim groups, also fighting for title to it. The government also fears extreme Hindu groups may be agitated in the event of Muslim groups getting ownership of the land.
The mosque demolition sparked widespread riots between Hindus and Muslims all across the country, especially in the country’s commercial capital Mumbai, leaving around 2,000 people dead.
In his plea, Tripathi, a retired government officer, has cited the “larger national interest” for seeking a mediated settlement to the case.
“It’s an open secret that in such sensitive matters there have been large-scale public unrest and the entire nation has been affected by unprovoked violence that has erupted in several parts of the country. This can be prevented in the case of a mutual settlement,” said the application filed by Tripathi on Monday.
On 24 September, the court is set to pronounce judgement on whether a temple existed at the disputed site prior to 1528, when it is widely believed that a commander of Mughal emperor Babar demolished a temple dedicated to Lord Rama and built the Babri mosque in its place. The court will also decide whether Muslims perfected their claim on the land through adverse possession—by virtue of having built a mosque there.
Lead lawyers for the Hindu Maha Sabha, the Sunni Wakf Board and the Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) had rejected the mediation idea, and filed their respective objections before the court on Thursday.
“An agreement is not possible. I am not ready to surrender the cause of the masjid and will never do that,” said Zafaryab Jilani, lawyer for the Sunni Wakf Board and convenor of BMAC. “The Hindus want to build the temple right there, that means they want us to surrender. This I am not willing to do. I have absolutely no hope of an out-of-court settlement.”
Hindu Maha Sabha advocate Jain said his group wanted “the court verdict”.
“We have waited 60 years for this and at this stage to talk of mediation, when the court is all ready to pronounce judgment, is ridiculous. I have told the court there is no scope for talks now,” he said.
Prashant Chandra, the lawyer representing Tripathi, said, “There are reports coming of the apprehension of unrest in the country. If the matter can be resolved through mediation, there is nothing like it. The country is now facing problems like Kashmir, Naxalism, there’s the Commonwealth Games next month. Forces have to be deployed for all these.”