New Delhi: The Supreme Court deferred hearing a petition to postone the judgment in the Ram Janmabhumi-Babri Masjid land case on Wednesday. The bench comprising Justices Altamas Kabir and A. K. Patnaik said the court did not have the administrative mandate to take up civil suits before their bench.
Ramesh Chandra Tripati, a defendant in the suit, filed a special leave petition on the grounds that there were security concerns and that one of the three judges delivering the judgment was not consulted last week when the Allahabad high court ruled that a deferral to allow the parties to mediate was not possible.
Wednesday’s situation, however, has left the parties in an ambiguous place since the apex court has neither dismissed the petition nor delayed the high court’s judgment by accepting the case. The judgment of the Allahabad High Court is to be delivered in Lucknow by a special bench on Friday afternoon.
“This arises out of a civil suit. I can’t - We do not have the determination,” said Justice Kabir in reference to the administrative functioning of the court. He said the special leave petition will now go before Chief Justice S. H. Kapadia who will determine which bench must take up the matter. Justice Kabir however maintained that the case was posted before the Supreme Court, although he did not disclose when the court would take it up.
Senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi, who appeared for Tripati, told the bench, “If (the petition) is not heard today or tomorrow it will become infructuous.” To this Justice Kabir replied, “I would have no hesitation to hear it if I had the determination.”
In his petition, Tripati says the judgment must be delayed “keeping in mind the larger public interest of the entire Nation and Capital above all security and safety of each and every individual that may be affected.” He also says that security forces have been stretched thin owing to the Commonwealth Games, the tensions in Kashmir and the upcoming Chief minister, Mayawati has elections in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. UP reportedly called for 485 paramilitary forces to keep law and order in check and prevent any communal clashes due to the decision of the court.
The non-consultation of Justice D. V. Sharma by his fellow judges on the special bench, S. U. Khan and Sudhir Agarwal, has raised questions as to whether the order rejecting the deferral of the judgment by the Allahabad High Court is legally valid.