New Delhi: Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, on Friday, while hearing the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case asked all the counsels to conclude their arguments by 17 October, which is a day in advance than the previously set deadline of 18 October.
The five-judge Constitution bench, headed by CJI Gogoi and comprising justices S.A. Bopde, D.Y. Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer asked the counsels to argue about the specific relief they seek from the apex court on the last day of the arguments.
On the 37th day of the hearing, the apex court made this announcement before adjourning the case for further arguments to 14 October, since the Supreme Court is closed for one week due to Dussehra break.
With just four more days left for the arguments to be completed, the announcement today puts a tight noose on all the counsels to finish their arguments. Senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan, representing the Muslim parties, on Friday apprised the apex court that his submissions would be complete by 15 October.
The announcement of deadline of completion of hearing is significant as the Chief Justice Gogoi retires on 17 November, hence the panel will get one month time to draft the judgment and pronounce the verdict, once arguments are concluded on 17 October.
On 18 September, the apex court while pursuing the tentative argument schedule of parties had asked them to conclude their arguments by 18 October, which stands amended as of today.
Day-to-day hearings in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case began in the Supreme Court on 6 August after the attempt for a mutual solution failed in the mediation.
The mediation panel was set up by the Supreme Court on 8 March. F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla, was the chairperson of the three-member mediation panel. The two other members on the panel were spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu. The court had directed that the proceedings should be held in camera and in Faizabad, a town adjoining Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh.
So far, 14 appeals have been filed before the Supreme Court against the 2010 Allahabad high court verdict, which said 22.7 acre of the disputed land should be equally divided among the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
On 6 December 1992, Babri Masjid, a 16th century mosque, was demolished by Hindu groups who wanted a Ram temple to be built at the site.