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Supreme Court Lifts Stay, Ayodhya Verdict On Sept 30 At 3:30 PM

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected the petition to defer the Allahabad High Court's impending verdict on Ayodhya regarding the settling of the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit issue. The SC did not
PTI September 28, 2010 15:22 IST
PTI
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected the petition to defer the Allahabad High Court's impending verdict on Ayodhya regarding the settling of the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit issue.

The SC did not give any reason for delivering its order rejecting the deferment plea. It dismissed the plea with a single sentence judgement.

"Having considered in detail the arguments of the parties, we are of the view that the SLP has to be dismissed. Accordingly, the SLP stands dismissed," said the apex court's 3-judge bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia in a brief order.

The Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court has decided to deliver its Ayodhya verdict on September 30 at 3:30 pm.

All parties to the Ayodhya title suit, except the Nirmohi Akhara, had opposed the plea of retired bureaucrat Ramesh Chand Tripathi seeking the verdict be postponed.

The hearing before a three-judge special Bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia had started with senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi putting forth arguments on behalf of Ramesh Chand Tripathi on why the verdict should be postponed and efforts be made to reach an amicable settlement outside the court.

Besides the Chief Justice, the special Bench also included Justices Aftab Alam and K S Radhakrishnan. It began hearing the special leave petition sharp at 10.30 am.

Rohatgi told the court that the dispute was an emotional issue and the court and the government should make some innovative and proactive approach to evolve a mediated settlement.

On fears that the impending retirement of one of the three judges of the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court could result in de novo hearing of the case, he said there are ways in which the government could overcome the problem.

He said either the retiring judge could be re-appointed or his judgement could be pronounced by the successor judge.

Rohatgi contended that there could be no title suit pending after the government acquisition of the land in 1993.

He said the three judges of the Lucknow Bench also agreed on the need for a mediated settlement and had fixed September 24 as deadline. But the dispute was such an emotional issue that a timeline cannot work.

The senior lawyer, however, said that all parties to the title suit except the Nirmohi Akhara were against the deferment of the HC verdict on the issue.

Meanwhile, opposing the plea of Tripathi, a counsel for the Sunni Wakf Board said his petition was motivated and should not be entertained at this stage.

The lawyer contended that there must be an element of settlement which is acceptable to all the parties to resolve the dispute and sadly, this was missing.

Senior advocate Ravi Shankar Prasad, appearing for one of the parties, said: "He (Tripathi) is a non-serious party" who did not appear regularly before the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court during the protracted hearing.

He said the plea that the pronouncement of the verdict may lead to adverse consequences should not be considered.

"If these arguments of consequences is accepted then even a bail plea could have a negative consequence," he said.

He said, "The High Court judges did try and made repeated attempts to resolve the dispute."

The senior lawyer said that no more time is required to be given to the parties for an out-of-court settlement.

Former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee, who appeared for one of the parties, agreed with Prasad and said, "judicial function cannot be made hostage to consequences".

Sorabjee said that an out-of-court settlement was tried even by a former prime minister but he could not succeed.

"We are hundred per cent for the settlement, but also hundred per cent against the plea the judgement be deferred," he said.

Meanwhile, Vishwa Hindu Parishad president Ashok Singhal said if the High Court verdict comes against the Ram Temple, an appeal will be filed in Supreme Court. 

Singhal said, the entire controversy rested on the  disputed site of 130 feet by 90 feet  piece of land which the VHP calls Ramjanmabhoomi. The temple will be built come what may, Singhal said, adding that the responsibility of erecting the temple rested with the government.

The apex court, on September 23, had stayed for a week the High Court verdict, which was to be pronounced on September 24, after the retired bureaucrat approached it to explore a possibility of an out-of-court settlement.

The apex court had passed the interim stay amid sharp differences of opinion on the issue of staying the verdict between Justices R V Raveendran and Justices H L Gokhale.

Keeping in view of their differences, the Bench of Justices Raveendran and Gokhale, while issuing a notice on the plea, referred it to the Chief Justice for constituting a larger Bench.

Tripathi's petition pleaded for exploring the possibility of an out-of-court settlement to the 60-year-old Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit dispute.

The court had also asked Attorney General G E Vahanvati to be present and assist the court when the matter comes up for hearing today.

Tuesday's crucial hearing assumed significance as the Sunni Central Waqf Board and Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, two opposite parties to the title suit, have ruled out the scope of reconciliation in their affidavits filed in the apex court.

Justice Raveendran was of the view that the special leave petition filed by Tripathi should be dismissed while Justice Gokhale was of the opinion that a notice should be issued for exploring the option of settlement.

Notwithstanding his reservations, Justice Raveendran, who was heading the Bench, preferred to go along with Justice Gokhale in making one attempt to find a settlement.

The apex court will also address the crisis which may arise as a fall out of the deferment of the verdict as one of the three judges of the Allahabad High Court Bench, Justice D V Sharma, who has heard the matter at length, is due to demit office on October 1.

The three-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice gave an unanimous order.

During the arguments, the Attorney General said "Settlement, if any possible, we welcome it but we do not want any uncertainty."

Since 1999, the stand of the Union Government has been for settlement which has not taken place, he said.

"We would like a resolution of the matter in one way or the other. We cannot keep the law and order machinery in sustained animation," Vahanvati said.

 The AG said, "My position is very clear. I am of the view for implementation of the decision of the suit. This is what we have to do as per the mandate of 1994".

Vahanvati also referred to the verdict of the Constitutional bench on the land acquisition at the disputed site in Ayodhya.

He refuted the allegations of senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who was appearing for Tripathi, that the Centre sat meekly and only stood as a receiver of the disputed land.

Vahanvati said the Government was committed to maintain the rule of law and was under obligation of the undertaking given by it to the apex court on September 14, 1994 that it will make attempts to resolve the issue through continuous negotiations.

The Attorney General also countered the allegations of Rohatgi that it was not "pro-active" in attempting to resolve the dispute through settlement and process of negotiation.

He said government believed in respecting the rule of law. He also countered the argument that the tenure of one of the retiring judges could be extended as the Centre has no power in this regard, which is vested with the Chief Justice of the High Court and only to a certain extent recommendations can be made by the apex court collegium.

Earlier, counsels pleading for deferment of the verdict by the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court said the court and the government could try innovative approach to evolve an out-of-court settlement.

     However, counsels for all the parties to the dispute except Nirmohi Akhara opposed the plea for deferment.

Appearing for Tripathi, senior counsel Rohatgi said the dispute was an emotional issue and the court and the government should take some innovative and proactive approach to evolve a mediated settlement.

 On fears that the retirement of one of the three judges of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court shortly could result in de novo hearing of the case, he said there are ways in which the government could overcome the problem.

 He said either the retiring judge could be re-appointed or his judgement could be pronounced by the successor judge.

Rohatgi contended that there could be no title suit pending after the government acquisition of the land in 1993.

 He said the three judges of the Lucknow Bench also agreed on the need for a mediated settlement and had fixed September 24 as deadline. But the dispute was such an emotional issue that a timeline cannot work.

Opposing the plea of Tripathi, a counsel for the Sunni Wakf Board said his petition was motivated and should not be entertained at this stage.

Senior advocate Ravi Shankar Prasad, appearing for one of the parties, said "He (Tripathi) is a non-serious party" who did not appear regularly before the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court during the protracted hearing.

He said the plea that the pronouncement of the verdict may lead to adverse consequences should not be considered.

"If this arguments of consequences is accepted then even a bail plea could have a negative consequence," he said.

Former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee, who appeared for one of the parties, agreed with Prasad and said "judicial function cannot be made hostage to consequences."

Sorabjee said the out-of-court settlement was tried even by a former prime minister but he could not succeed.

 "We are hundred per cent for the settlement, but also hundred per cent against the plea the judgement be deferred," he said.

The apex court, on September 23, had stayed for a week the High Court verdict, which was to be pronounced on September 24, after Tripathi, a retired bureaucrat, approached it to explore a possibility of an out-of-court settlement. PTI