SC expected to decide Ayodhya hearing dates today: Key highlights

A bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi is expected to form a three-judge bench that will fix the date for the hearing.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court is expected to decide on Friday the date for beginning hearings of petitions challenging the 2010 judgement of the Allahabad High Court on the Ayodhya dispute.  A bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi is expected to form a three-judge bench that will fix the date for the hearing. On October 29, 2018, the Supreme Court had adjourned hearings in the Ayodhya dispute, stating a date to begin hearings would be announced in January. Following the Supreme Court’s decision, rightwing groups and even sections within the BJP had demanded the Narendra Modi government enact an ordinance to fast-track construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya. However, in an interview on New Year, Modi announced any ordinance would come after the Supreme Court’s verdict on the matter.

Here are the major highlights on Ayodhya dispute:

  • The dispute is over 2.7 acres of land on which the Babri Masjid stood before it was demolished on December 6, 1992.
  • In 2010, the Allahabad High Court accepted that the disputed site was the birthplace of Lord Ram and allotted two-thirds of it to the Hindus. The rest went to the Sunni Central Waqf Board of Uttar Pradesh. Both Hindu and Muslim organisations appealed against it in the Supreme Court, which in 2011, stayed the High Court order.
  • In October, the Supreme Court rejected the Uttar Pradesh government’s appeal for an early hearing of the 14 petitions in the case. “We have our own priorities. Whether hearing would take place in January, March or April would be decided by an appropriate bench,” the court said.
  • Chief Justice Gogoi, who was heading the bench, also clarified the appeals would come up before a bench “not for hearing but for fixing the date of hearing”.
  • The court’s refusal for an early hearing pushed right-wing groups and a section of the BJP to demand that the government bypass the legal process and expedite temple construction through an ordinance of executive order.
  • Despite pressure from right-wing groups and the Shiv Sena, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his New Year interview that the government is waiting for a legal resolution. “Let the judicial process be over. After the judicial process is over, whatever be our responsibility as government, we are ready to make all efforts,” PM Modi said. He also accused the Congress of delaying the legal process.
  • The RSS, the ideological mentor of the BJP, has called for an early decision in the case. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has also called for an early resolution, saying “justice delayed is justice denied”.
  • The Shiv Sena and the right-wing Vishwa Hindu Parishad have been drumming up support for an ordinance, holding rallies and public meetings in Ayodhya and other parts of the country.
  • In September, the Supreme Court had declined to reconsider its observations in a 1994 judgment that a mosque was not integral to Islam – an issue that came up during the hearing of the Ayodhya land dispute.
  • The 16th-Century Babri Majid was razed on December 6, 1992, by thousands of right-wing volunteers or Kar Sewaks, who claimed it was built on a temple marking the birthplace of Lord Ram that was destroyed. Around 2,000 people were killed in the riots that followed the demolition.