NEW DELHI - The Supreme Court Wednesday concluded hearing in the politically sensitive case of Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute in Ayodhya and reserved the judgement.
The bench heard for 40 days the arguments of the Hindu and the Muslim sides.
A 5-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, granted three days to contesting parties to file written notes on 'moulding of relief' or narrowing down the issues on which the court is required to adjudicate.
The other members of the bench are justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer.
The protracted hearing in the Ayodhya dispute had entered the crucial final leg on October 14 when the apex court resumed proceedings on the 38th day after the week-long Dussehra break.
The Constitution bench, which started the day-to-day proceedings on August 6 after mediation proceedings failed to find an amicable solution to the vexatious dispute, had revised the deadline for wrapping up the proceedings.
Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties -- the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
Initially, as many as five lawsuits were filed in the lower court. The first one was filed by Gopal Singh Visharad, a devotee of ''Ram Lalla'', in 1950 to seek enforcement of the right to worship of Hindus at the disputed site.
In the same year, the Paramahansa Ramachandra Das had also filed the lawsuit for continuation of worship and keeping the idols under the central dome of the now-demolished disputed structure.
The plea was later withdrawn.
Later, the Nirmohi Akahara also moved the trial court in 1959 seeking management and ''shebaiti'' (devotee) rights over the 2.77 acre disputed land.
Then came the lawsuit of the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Wakf Board which moved the court in 1961, claiming title right over the disputed property.
The deity, ''Ram Lalla Virajman'' through next friend and former Allahabad High Court judge Deoki Nandan Agrawal, and the Janambhoomi (the birthplace) moved the lawsuit in 1989, seeking title right over the entire disputed property on the key ground that the land itself has the character of the deity and of a ''Juristic entity''.
Later, all the lawsuits were transferred to the Allahabad High Court for adjudication following the demolition of the disputed Ram Janambhoomi-Babri masjid structure on December 6, 1992, sparking communal riots in the country.
Earlier, the bench had said it would wrap up the hearing by October 17, a day sooner than the earlier schedule.
Fixing the schedule for the final leg of the lengthy arguments, it had said that the Muslim side would complete the arguments on October 14 and thereafter, two days would be granted to the Hindu parties to sum up their rejoinders by October 16.
The judgment in the matter is to be pronounced by November 17, the day the Chief Justice of India will demit the office.
The apex court had on August 6 commenced day-to-day proceedings in the case as the mediation proceedings initiated to find the amicable resolution had failed.
It had taken note of the report of the three-member panel, comprising Justice FMI Kallifulla, spiritual guru and founder of the Art of Living foundation Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate and renowned mediator Sriram Panchu, that mediation proceedings, which went on for about four months, did not result in any final settlement and it had to decide the matter pending before it.
SC decision on Ayodhya should be accepted: Muslim leaders
Muslim religious scholars and leaders said here on Wednesday that the Supreme Court's decision in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case, whatever it may be, should be accepted by both sides of the dispute.
Earlier in the day, the apex court concluded hearing in the politically sensitive case, and reserved its judgment.
Maulana Mehboob Daryadi, General Secretary of All India Ulema Council, said, "We are happy that hearing is over, we want the court to take a final call on the basis of evidence, not on the basis of religious sentiments.
"From the very beginning we have been saying that we will accept whatever the court's decision will be, but people on the opposite side should also accept the court's decision," he said.
He also appealed the Muslim community to maintain peace and harmony when the verdict comes.
Maulana Sayyed Atharali, member of the executive body of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said, "It is a title suit, we have presented sufficient evidence before the court and hope we will win, but we will respect the court decision, whatever it will be."
Shabbir Somji, senior member of the Khoja-Shia Jamat, which represents Khoja-Shia community, said, "We should respect the judiciary and whatever decision will be, we will accept it and respect it."
Chronology of events in Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case
The following is the chronology of events in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case in Ayodhya in which the Supreme Court Wednesday concluded 40-day hearing and reserved the order.
- 1528: Babri Masjid built by Mir Baqi, commander of Mughal emperor Babur.
- 1885: Mahant Raghubir Das files plea in Faizabad district court seeking permission to build a canopy outside the disputed structure. Court rejects the plea.
- 1949: Idols of Ram Lalla placed under central dome outside the disputed structure.
- 1950: Gopal Simla Visharad files suit in Faizabad district court for rights to worship the idols of Ram Lalla.
- Paramahansa Ramachandra Das files suit for continuation of worship and keeping the idols.
- 1959: Nirmohi Akhara files suit seeking possession of the site.
- 1981: UP Sunni Central Waqf Board files suit for possession of the site.
- Feb 1, 1986: Local court orders the government to open the site for Hindu worshippers.
- Aug 14, 1989: Allahabad HC orders maintenance of status quo in respect of the disputed structure.
- Dec 6, 1992: Babri Masjid demolished.
- Apr 3, 1993: 'Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act' passed for acquiring land by Centre in the disputed area.
- Various writ petitions, including one by Ismail Faruqui, filed in Allahabad HC challenging various aspects of the Act.
- SC exercising its jurisdiction under Article 139A transferred the writ petitions, which were pending in the High Court.
- Oct 24, 1994: SC says in historic Ismail Faruqui case mosque was not integral to Islam.
- Apr, 2002: HC begins hearing on determining who owns the disputed site.
- Mar 13, 2003: SC says, in the Aslam alias Bhure case, no religious activity of any nature be allowed at the acquired land.
- Sep 30, 2010: HC, in a 2:1 majority, rules three-way division of disputed area between Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
- May 9, 2011: SC stays HC verdict on Ayodhya land dispute.
- Mar 21, 2017: CJI JS Khehar suggests out-of-court settlement among rival parties.
- Aug 7: SC constitutes three-judge bench to hear pleas challenging 1994 verdict of the Allahabad HC.
- Feb 8, 2018: SC starts hearing the civil appeals.
- Jul 20: SC reserves verdict.
- Sep 27: SC declines to refer the case to a five-judge Constitution bench. Case to be heard by a newly constituted three-judge bench on October 29.
- Oct 29: SC fixes the case for the first week of January before an appropriate bench, which will decide the schedule of hearing.
- Dec 24: SC decides to take up petitions on case for hearing on January 4, 2019.
- Jan 4, 2019: SC says an appropriate bench constituted by it will pass an order on January 10 for fixing the date of hearing in the title case.
- Jan 8: SC sets up a five-judge Constitution Bench to hear the case headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising justices S A Bobde, N V Ramana, U U Lalit and D Y Chandrachud.
- Jan 10: Justice U U Lalit recuses himself prompting SC to reschedule the hearing for January 29 before a new bench.
- Jan 25: SC reconstitutes 5-member Constitution Bench to hear the case. The new bench comprises Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer.
- Jan 29: Centre moves SC seeking permission to return the 67-acre acquired land around the disputed site to original owners.
- Feb 26: SC favours mediation, fixes Mar 5 for order on whether to refer matter to court-appointed mediator.
- Mar 8: SC refers the dispute for mediation by a panel headed by former apex court judge F M I Kallifulla.
- Apr 9: Nirmohi Akhara opposes in SC Centre's plea to return acquired land around Ayodhya site to owners.
- May 9: 3-member mediation committee submits interim report in SC.
- May 10: SC extends time till Aug 15 to complete mediation process.
- Jul 11: SC seeks report on "progress of mediation".
- Jul 18: SC allows mediation process to continue, seeks outcome report by Aug 1.
- Aug 1: Report of mediation submitted in sealed cover to SC.
- Aug 2: SC decides to conduct day-to day hearing from Aug 6 as mediation fails.
- Aug 6: SC commences day-to-day hearing on the land dispute.
- Oct 4: SC says it will wrap up hearing on Oct 17, judgment by Nov 17.
- SC directs UP govt to provide security to state Waqf Board Chairperson.
- Oct 16: SC concludes hearing; reserves order.
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