Supreme Court sets 18 October deadline for conclusion of Ayodhya hearings2 min read . Updated: 18 Sep 2019, 11:41 PM IST
- Apex court offers to hear case on Saturdays as well, allows parties involved to settle row via mediation
- If both sides stick to the schedule, it gives the SC bench four weeks to write the judgemen
The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it hoped hearings in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case would be concluded by 18 October, urging parties to stick to the schedule and conclude their arguments on time.
“Let us make a joint effort to complete it by October 18," Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, heading a five-judge constitutional bench, said.
The court is ready to sit an hour extra everyday and even on Saturdays to complete the hearing if needed, Gogoi added.
On the 26th day of the day-to-day hearing, all parties submitted a tentative schedule for their arguments, following a request by the court.
CJI Gogoi retires on 17 November, which means that if the parties stick to the schedule, it will give the bench a full month to draft the judgement and pronounce the verdict in a politically sensitive case that has remained unresolved for over 25 years.
Reiterating its 2014 poll promise, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in this year’s Lok Sabha election had said that it will “explore all possibilities" within the Constitution to expedite the temple construction.
Senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan, representing Muslim parties, said he is likely to finish his side of arguments by this weekend and may take another two days to argue on the civil suit. Subsequently, counsels for Hindu parties said they would need another 4-5 days.
The five-judge bench added: “There is an ancillary issue. We have received a letter that some parties want to settle the matter by way of mediation."
Gogoi said it has received a letter from former apex court judge F.M.I. Kalifulla, who was heading the three-member mediation committee, saying some parties have written to him for resumption of the mediation process.
The bench comprising Gogoi, S.A. Bopde, D.Y. Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer, passed an order on Wednesday saying if “the parties desire to settle the matter(s), including, by resorting to mediation by the earlier constituted mediation panel, they may do so and place the settlement before the Court, if reached."
The court order said the mediation details need to be confidential as held in the 8 March order passed by the apex court. The court, however, clarified that mediation will proceed “simultaneously along with the hearing".
The bench said the day-to-day proceedings in the land dispute case have reached “an advanced stage" and will continue without interruption.
On 6 August, the Supreme Court had begun day-to-day hearings in the Ayodhya land dispute case, noting that more than four months of efforts to mediate between rival Hindu and Muslim claimants had failed.
Fourteen appeals have so far been filed before the Supreme Court against the 2010 Allahabad high court judgment, which said that the disputed 22.7 acres 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 to build a Ram temple at the disputed site, claiming it was the birthplace of Lord Rama.