The Supreme Court is likely to commence from Thursday the crucial "final hearings" on a batch of petitions in the politically sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute case.
Thursday's hearing assumes significance in the wake of the rejection, by a special bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, of the vehement submission by Sunni Waqf Board and others that the pleas be heard after the next general elections.
The bench, also comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer, had made clear on 5 December last year that it would begin final hearing on the petitions from 8 February and had asked the parties to file the requisite pleadings in the meantime.
According to NDTV, the bench is scheduled to start the hearing at 2 pm. The report also said that even though the court was expected to hold day-to-day hearings, this may not be possible because CJI Misra is already part of the Constitution bench on the Aadhaar issue.
Senior lawyers including Kapil Sibal and Rajeev Dhavan had contended that the civil appeals be either referred to a five or seven judge bench or posted in 2019, keeping in mind the sensitive nature of the case and its ramifications on the country's secular fabric and polity.
But the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Waqf Board had spoken against deferment of the hearing in the apex court till after the 2019 general elections.
"The board is of the view that hearing in the case be held and the matter be disposed of promptly... I do not know on whose behalf the counsel for the Muslims appearing in the apex court, Kapil Sibal had stated this... No such directive had been given by the board," chairman of the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Waqf Board Zafar Farooqui had said.
Sibal had also come under stinging attack from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who — at that time — was on campaign trail in Gujarat, for his attempt to link the legal tangle to the next general elections, wondering if such an issue should be kept unresolved for political gains and losses.
Under attack, Sibal claimed he did not represent the Sunni Waqf Board in the Ayodhya case in the Supreme Court, and mounted a counteroffensive against Modi, saying he should have checked the facts before criticising him.
The top court had asked the advocates on records (AoRs), dealing with as many as 14 civil appeals against the 2010 judgment of the Allahabad High Court in the land dispute, to ensure that all requisite documents are translated, filed and numbered before the apex court registry.
The special bench of the apex court is seized of a total 14 appeals filed against the high court judgment delivered in four civil suits.
A three-judge bench of the Allahabad High Court, in a 2:1 majority ruling, had in 2010 ordered that the land be partitioned equally among three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Feb 08, 2018 10:18:27 IST