New Delhi: The Allahabad High Court verdict
on the Ayodhya title suit will not be delivered on Friday with
the Supreme Court deferring it by a week in a sudden turn of
events today and deciding to hear the plea for postponement
on Sept 28.
The plea is likely to be heard by a larger Bench following differences
on the issue between the two judges hearing the petition.
After sharp differences over the issue of entertaining
the petition challenging the HC order refusing to postpone the
judgement, a Bench comprising Justices R V Raveendran and H L
Gokhale stayed for a week the verdict due to have been
pronounced tomorrow by the High Court`s Lucknow Bench.
Following the court`s tradition in case of differences,
the Bench decided to issue notices to all the contesting
parties and sought their response to the plea by retired
bureaucrat Ramesh Chand Tripathi.
Tripathi`s petition pleaded for exploring the
possibility of an out-of-court settlement on the 60-year-old
Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit dispute.
The court asked Attorney General G E Vahanvati to be
present and assist the court when the matter comes up on
"In view of the differences, place the matter before the
Chief Justice of India for constituting a larger Bench," the
court said in its order.
Justice Raveendran was of the view that the special
leave petition filed by Tripathi should be dismissed while
Justice Gokhale was of the opinion that a notice should be
issued for exploring the option of settlement.
Notwithstanding his reservations, Justice Raveendran,
who was heading the Bench, preferred to go along with Justice
Gokhale in making one attempt to find a settlement.
"Even if there is one per cent chance, you have to give
it(for settlement)," Justice Gokhale said.
Justice Raveendran in his order said "One of the members
of the Bench is of the view that the SLP should be dismissed.
Another member is of the view that the order should be stayed
and notice issued.
"Tradition of this court is when one member says that
notice be issued another says that it should not be issued,
the notice should be issued.
"And we issue notice and stay the order. There shall
be an interim stay for a week. Notice to all parties and the
Attorney General who shall be present in the court".
Appearing for petitioner Tripathi, senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi said that the country was already heaped with problems and there was hardly any scope for adding one more to the list.
He referred to the floods in various states, the Jammu and Kashmir imbroglio and the Commonwealth Games, indicating that these issues needed to be addressed on priority.
He said that the title suit was not just a matter of a dispute between two parties over a private property. The case involved the religious sentiments of the people.
He said that a suggestion by the apex court of a mediated solution would have a soothing impact on the contesting parties.
The posting of the next hearing on September 28 assumes
importance in view of the fact that one of the three judges of
the Ayodhya bench in Lucknow--Justice D V Sharma-- is due to
demit office on October one.
While saying that existing problems could not be the ground for deferring the verdict, Justice Raveendran asked the senior counsel: "Why (do) you think that people are so immature that they will not accept the verdict?"
"It (such thinking) is unfortunate," Justice Raveendran noted.
When senior counsel for the contending parties to the suit, A. Chaudhary and Ravi Shankar Prasad, told the court that there was zero scope for a negotiated and amicable settlement of the dispute, Justice Gokhale said: "You are a party to the dispute but have never suffered the consequences. It is the common man who is not a party who suffers."
"You are aware of the history. You are part of it," Justice Gokhale said, adding: "If we don`t grant this prayer and there are consequences then you will be the first to blame us."