Ayodhya Verdict likely today; Ayodhya turns fortress

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After seven decades of a protracted legal battle, the Supreme Court on Saturday will pronounce the judgment in Ayodhya title dispute case at 10.30 a.m. on Saturday.

The notice on the judgment was uploaded on the website of the court during the late evening on Friday. Earlier, during the day, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had held a highly confidential meeting with Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police. It is learnt this meeting focussed at taking stock of the law and order situation in the state.

A five judge bench headed by Chief JusticeGogoi and comprising Chief Justice-designate Justice S.A. Bobde, Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice S.A. Nazeer, had reserved the judgement on October 17, after 40 days of daily hearing on the matter, which began on August 6.

On the last day of the hearing, the Hindu parties urged the court to take into consideration faith of the millions of people attached with the birthplace of Lord Ram, and the Muslim parties pleaded to restore the Babri Masjid, as it was, before the demolition in 1992. Both sides were involved in intense arguments in the last phase of the hearing, and it appeared high-pitched arguments had led to chaos in the courtroom.

The court began the daily hearing after the court-appointed mediation panel headed by former Supreme Court Justice F.M.I. Kalifulla and comprising spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar along with senior advocate Sriram Panchu, failed to develop a consensus among the parties to arrive at an amicable solution.

On the last day hearing the Muslim parties urged the court to allow the matter to be settled between parties without passing a judgement. A faction in the Sunni Waqf Board, Uttar Pradesh, had apparently conceded title of the dispute to the Hindu side on terms and conditions. A representative of this faction told the media that the nature of dispute requires settlement and not judgement, which is essential to maintain peace in the country.

During the hearing, the judges had asked piercing questions, specifically focussed at the complexity involved in faith and its legal outcome, to both parties. Senior advocate Rajiv Dhavan, representing the Muslim parties, had objected this line of questioning specifically targeting them but later, he apologised to the court on the same.

Dhavan also shot to the headlines, after shredding a pictorial map, submitted by one of the Hindu parties associated with the disputed site. Dhavan had objected to this submission. He was also the only lawyer who argued for two weeks, establishing the possession of Muslim parties on the disputed site, before the court.

The Allahabad High Court in 2010 through a judgement equally partitioned the dispute 2.77 acre land between – Ram Lalla Virajman, Nirmohi Akhara and Sunni Waqf Board. A total of 14 appeals were filed in the apex court in four civil suits.

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