The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its verdict on the 150-year-old Ayodhya dispute after 40-day-long marathon arguments by lawyers from both sides. Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, heading the five-judge Constitution Bench, will be retiring on November 17 and the apex court is expected to deliver its verdict by that date.
The verdict will be given on cross-appeals filed by Hindu and Muslim parties who have been embroiled for the last 70 years claiming ownership over the 2.77 acre disputed site. These parties have challenged the Allahabad High Court's 2010 verdict dividing the disputed land equally among Ram Lalla, Nirmohi Akhara and UP Sunni Waqf Board.
The apex court asked parties to file by Saturday written submissions on how it could mould relief granted by the High Court. There was theatrics on the last day of hearing when lawyer Rajeev Dhavan representing Muslim parties tore into pieces a map which Hindu Mahasabha had cited as depicting the "exact location of Lord Ram's birthplace". Dhavan later said he tore up the map because the Chief Justice told him he could tear it off if he found it irrelevant.
There was confusion in the morning when it was initially reported that the UP Sunni Waqf Board has agreed to withdraw its appeal. The Waqf Board chief later denied this report. However, in another development, the SC-appointed mediation panel has reportedly informed the apex court in a sealed cover that the Muslim parties have agreed to give up their claim on the land for the construction of Ram temple. The report said parties who signed the settlement included the Sunni Waqf Board, Nirvani Akhara, Hindu Mahasabha and Ram Janmasthan Punarudhar Samiti.
The most significant part of all that has transpired before the apex court is that the Constitution Bench patiently gave a hearing to all parties in the dispute. Both the sides admitted that the apex court heard their arguments in full. There should now be no room for complaints when the apex court gives its historic verdict next month.
I sincerely hope all sides will respect the SC verdict on Ayodhya. However, all parties need to be careful not to give credence to speculations, rumours or provocative remarks that could unnecessarily fuel emotions among the people. All sides should refrain from making objectionable comments till the time the apex court delivers its judgement.
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