Nation waits with bated breath for Ayodhya verdict
Several leaders cutting across political and religious spectrum have appealed for calm ahead of the verdict.
Lucknow: The three member Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court will on Thursday deliver its verdict on the 60-year-old Ramjanambhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit, amidst worries about the fall-out of the verdict.
Elaborate security arrangements have been put in place by the Central and the state governments to avoid any untoward incident. Several leaders cutting across political and religious spectrum have appealed for calm ahead of the verdict on four title suits on the ownership of the 2.7 acre land, the dispute over which changed the course of politics in the last two decades.
With Supreme Court clearing hurdles, the verdict by the 3-Judge bench consisting of Justices SU Khan, Justices Sudhir Agarwal and Justice DV Sharma will be delivered at 1530 hours today and the court has been turned into a virtually impregnable fortress having been declared as a "no access zone".
The first suit in the case was filed 60 years ago by a Hindu seeking right to worship. After twists and turns the UP Central Sunni Board of Waqfs moved to file a claim in 1961 followed by another civil suit in 1989 in the name of Lord Ram for declaration and possession of the Masjid complex.
All the cases were transferred from a Faizabad court in 1989 to a special bench of the High Court.
As the issue was hanging fire, the BJP and Sangh Parivar outfits mounted a campaign for building Ram temple in Ayodhya at the dispute site claiming it was his birth place. The campaign reached a crescendo in 1992 when the 500-year-old Babri Masjid was razed to the ground.
BJP came to power in 1998 but the party has not been able to repeat its success since the 2004 elections and observers believe the Ayodhya issue may have lost its steam down the years.
However, not leaving anything to chance Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Home Minister P Chidambaram Wednesday appealed to the people to accept the verdict and maintain peace and tranquillity.
They stressed that no attempt should be made by any section of the people to provoke another section after the verdict. Leaders felt that tomorrow`s verdict was not the final word as legal process was still available to parties to approach the Supreme Court.
The BJP also made it clear that they respect the judicial process and want peace and calm.
Earlier, the Supreme Court on Tuesday paved the way for the Allahabad High Court to give its verdict on the Ayodhya dispute, dismissing a petition that sought its postponement.
Former bureaucrat Ramesh Chandra Tripathi had filed the petition for deferring the high court verdict on the Babri Masjid-Ramjanmabhoomi land dispute in Ayodhya till the end of the Commonwealth Games 2010.
The apex court also rejected three other similar petitions that sought deferment of the Ayodhya verdict.
"Having considered the detailed arguments advanced in these cases, we are of the view that the special leave petitions deserved to be dismissed," said an apex court bench of Chief Justice SH Kapadia, Justice Aftab Alam and Justice KS Radhakrishnan in the brief order.
In its sitting before lunch, the court heard two-and-half hours long arguments by lawyers of the contending parties in the dispute.
Just before the court adjourned the hearing ahead of lunch break, Attorney General Goolam Vahanvati told the court: "If there is any possibility of settlement, we welcome it but at the same time we don`t want any uncertainty to continue."
On the law and order question, the attorney general said, "We can`t keep our security forces in sustained animation."
He said that the matter has to be decided one way or the other.
Vahanvati took exception to senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi`s contention that the central government sat "meekly" as a receiver after acquiring the disputed land at Ayodhya in 1993.
He said that the government`s mandate was limited as it was bound by the constitution bench verdict of October 1994, which obligated it to implement the outcome of the title suit trial in the Allahabad High court.
The constitution bench verdict of 1994 revived the title suit case and the High Court was asked to conduct the case.
The trial started in January 2010 and concluded July 26. It saw the deposition of 94 witnesses and presentation of documents and evidence running into 14,000 pages.
Initiating the argument for petitioner Tripathi, senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi said there was a need for pro-active stand by the central government to resolve the emotive issue.
Pleading for the deferment of the high court verdict, senior counsel said there should be another attempt for settlement under the aegis of the apex court and the central government.
He said that no incalculable damage would be caused if the verdict was postponed and attempts were made for a negotiated settlement.
Rohtagi said that the issue was not a private dispute between two parties but it affected two main groups of the society.
The court was told that the issue had the tendency of causing communal tension which had led to bloodshed in the past and may again do so.
Appearing for another petitioner, Nirmohi Akhara, who too sought a deferment, counsel Sushil K Jain said that there could be no mediation on the issue as third party interference had always accentuated the problem.
He said that an attempt by way of direct dialogue between the parties to the dispute, by keeping outsiders at bay, could result in a settlement.
Appearing for petitioner Sunni Central Board of Waqfs, senior counsel Anoop Chaudhary said proceedings before the high Court were over and there should be no deferment of the verdict.
Ravi Shanker Prasad, appearing for petitioner Acharya Dharmendra, said that the High Court conducted the entire trial on the direction of the Constitution Bench and the verdict of the same could not be deferred on the petition of a non-serious person.
Appearing for an intervener, former attorney general Soli Sorabjee told the court that it could not be bogged down by the consideration of the consequences of the court judgment. "Deferring the judgment would set a bad precedent," he said.
"Judges are not concerned about the consequences of the judgment (they deliver). They are only concerned with law, merit (of the case) and evidence," he said, representing the All India Muslim Personal Law Board.
With PTI & IANS