The five-judge Constitution Bench of Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, on Wednesday said that it hopes to conclude hearing in the Ayodhya case by October 18, and the bench would take four weeks to write the judgement.
The verdict is going to be pronounced on or before November 17, the day Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi retires. This litigation over the ownership of 2.77 acres of Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land in Ayodhya is 70 years old, but the dispute over the land has been lingering on for more than 150 years, both during the British rule and in the post-Indepence period.
As many as 14 appeals were filed in the Supreme Court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict, that was delivered in four civil suits. The High Court in its verdict had said that the disputed 2.77 acres of land be divided equally between three parties - Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and the representatives of Ram Lalla - the child deity.
The Supreme Court verdict, if given in November, will be a landmark one, because this is one case in which several mediation efforts have failed. The Chief Justice wants to deliver the verdict before he retires, but there are also sceptics who say that fresh petitions may be filed to delay the hearing and verdict, so that the dispute may linger on.
If the apex court is unable to finish hearings by October 18, and if the judges do not get enough time to write their judgements before the retirement of the Chief Justice, then the bench will have to be reconstituted for fresh hearings. This would mean that the case would drag on.
Now that the hearings are in the final stage, the people of India want an end to this vexed dispute, once and for all. The sooner, the better.
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