Ayodhya Hearing may be Over by 18th October

The Supreme Court allowed mediation to continue in the Ayodhya title suit parallel to the court hearing.

Any settlement arrived at by a high level court-mandated committee headed by former judge FMI Kalifullah will be submitted to the top court for vetting. The Nirvani Akhara and a Waqf Board member had sought court nod to continue talking in-camera to arrive at a solution.

Meanwhile, the hearing in the case will continue, CJI Ranjan Gogoi said. Arguments will be wrapped up by October 18, brightening the possibility of a ruling by November 17, the day the CJI demits office. If need be, the court would devote extra time to the case, the CJI said.

Any further delay will imply a de novo hearing on the issue pending in the top court since 2010.

In the first hint of things to come, the CJI-led five-judge bench began exploring ways and means to mould relief in the case. “We also have to mould relief,” CJI Gogoi said.

Towards the end of the proceedings, Justice DY Chandrachud sought to know the distance between the Ram Chabutra and the dome of the now demolished Babri Masjid structure from the lead lawyer for the Waqf Board, Rajeev Dhavan.

Dhavan said it was about 150-120 feet, indicating the proximity at which the two communities prayed at the site.

Justice Chandrachud then wanted to know why Hindus still prayed at the railing which divides the dome area from the Ram Chabutra. “Is it because they are still offering prayers where the deity earlier stood?”

Dhavan contested Justice Chandrachud’s inference vehemently as pure “conjecture”. “Where is the contemporaneous evidence to back this?” He instead blamed it on “curiosity”. He also cited the backdrop, in which the area had been divided by a railing to separate the areas in which the Hindus and Muslims prayed.

Till 1855, both sides prayed inside the structure. But in the backdrop of a bitter fight over control over the area where a walled structure of a mosque already stood, the British put a railing which would ensure that the Hindus would pray outside the inner courtyard near the Ram Chabutra and the Muslims inside, he contended.

The Board has claimed that the Hindus have historically worshipped the Ram Chabutra as the birthplace of Lord Ram, a fact contested by the other side. It has conceded the ‘Hindu right’ to pray at the Chabutra provided the title of the land went to it.

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