SC ADJOURNS HEARING TO FEBRUARY 8 ON THE BABRI MASJID-RAM JANAMBHOOMI TITLE DISPUTE

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The Hush Post: The Supreme Court on Tuesday adjourned the hearing in the Ayodhya case for February 8, 2018. The case was heard by a Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer. Citing political ramifications, senior counsel Kapil Sibal asked the court to hear the matter only in July 2019. Meanwhile, appellant Muslim parties questioned the reason for hearing the case now and wondered if there was some kind of “hurry”. The Sunni Waqf Board has asked the Supreme Court to defer hearing in the Ayodhya dispute till the 2019 Lok Sabha polls conclude. A three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court on Tuesday began the final hearing in the matter a day before the 25th anniversary of Babri Masjid demolition.The Supreme Court, however, has posted the matter for next hearing on February 8, 2018.

A specially constituted bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and Abdul Nazeer is hearing a total of 13 appeals filed against the 2010 judgement of the Allahabad High Court in four civil suits. During the hearing, senior lawyer Kapil Sibal who appeared for the Sunni Waqf Board told the Supreme Court that whenever this matter is heard, there are serious repercussions outside court and to preserve the decorum of law and order, the lawyer personally requested the court to take this matter up on July 15, 2019, once all the pleadings are complete.

Advocates Kapil Sibal, and Rajiv Dhawan along with other petitioner counsels also sought a larger bench of at least seven judges to hear this matter. The Allahbad High Court had partitioned the disputed 2.77 acre area among three parties, the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and the deity Ram Lalla (Ram as an infant), awarding each a third of the land. In May 2011, the Supreme Court stayed the operation of the order, calling it “strange” because “the decree of partition was not sought by the parties… not prayed by anyone”.

Ordering status quo at the site, the Supreme Court restrained any kind of religious activity on the adjoining 67.7 acres acquired by the government a month after the destruction of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992. And now, more than seven years after the High Court ruling, the Supreme Court will start final hearings on the order.

The Supreme Court Bench in August this year had made it clear that the parties would have to strictly adhere to the time frame of December 5 fixed by it and no adjournment shall be given in any circumstances. Senior counsel C S Vaidyanathan  appears for Lord Ram Lalla and Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta represents the UP government and  senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Anoop George Chaudhari and Rajeev Dhavan represent the other parties.

Today’s hearing comes in the backdrop of a failed suggestion by the SC in March this year, when it had suggested an out-of-court settlement. None of the parties were keen on it. Since September 2010, over 20 appeals and cross-appeals have been filed in the SC without making any significant headway.

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