Ayodhya under Section 144 curbs as hearing in land dispute nears end

With the protracted hearing in the sensitive Ramjanmabhoomi land dispute reaching final stages, the Uttar Pradesh government has beefed up security in and around the area surrounding the site.

The local administration imposed Section 144 of the CrPC prohibiting assembly of four or more persons across Ayodhya district till 10 December, in view of the safety and security of people, upcoming festivals and the court verdict, the administration said.
A five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court has set 17 October as the last day for winding up hearings in the case when the parties will have to make the final arguments about the relief they are seeking, the court had said. 
The bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi and comprising justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer, said it would wrap up the hearing by 17 October, a day sooner than the earlier scheduled.
Ayodhya hearing will enter its crucial final leg on Monday when the Supreme Court resumes proceedings on the 38th day after a week-long Dussehra break.
The bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi started day-to-day hearing in the case on 6 August after mediation proceedings failed to find an amicable solution to the vexatious dispute.
Fourteen appeals have been filed in the court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara, and Ram Lalla.
Initially, as many as five lawsuits were filed in the lower court. The first was filed by Gopal Singh Visharad, a devotee of ‘Ram Lalla’, in 1950 to seek enforcement of the right to worship of Hindus at the disputed site.
In the same year, the Paramahansa Ramachandra Das had also filed the lawsuit for continuation of worship and keeping the idols under the central dome of the now-demolished disputed structure. The plea was later withdrawn.
Later, the Nirmohi Akahara also moved the trial court in 1959 seeking management and ‘shebaiti’ (devotee) rights over the 2.77 acre disputed land. The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Wakf Board also moved the court in 1961, claiming title right over the disputed property.
The deity, ‘Ram Lalla Virajman’ through next friend and former Allahabad High Court judge Deoki Nandan Agrawal, and the Janambhoomi (the birthplace) moved the lawsuit in 1989, seeking title right over the entire disputed property on the key ground that the land itself has the character of the deity and of a ‘Juristic entity’.
Later, all the lawsuits were transferred to the Allahabad High Court for adjudication following the demolition of the disputed Ram Janambhoomi-Babri masjid structure on 6 December 1992.
Fixing the schedule for the final leg of the lengthy arguments, it had said that the Muslim side would complete the arguments on 14 October and thereafter, two days would be granted to the Hindu parties to sum up their rejoinders by 16 October.
October 17 would be the last day for wrapping up the hearing when the parties will have to make the final arguments about the relief they are seeking, the court had said. The bench had earlier fixed the deadline of October 18 to conclude the hearing.
The judgment in the matter is to be pronounced by 17 November, the day the Chief Justice of India will demit office. The apex court had on 6 August commenced day-to-day proceedings in the case as the mediation proceedings initiated to find the amicable resolution had failed.
It had taken note of the report of the three-member panel, comprising Justice FMI Kallifulla, spiritual guru and founder of the Art of Living foundation Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate and renowned mediator Sriram Panchu, that mediation proceedings, which went on for about four months, did not result in any final settlement and it had to decide the matter pending before it.