The Supreme Court has lifted the stay on Allahabad High Court’s verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi- Babri Masjid title suit case. However, the apex court has not fixed any date for HC to give verdict.
AG G E Vahanvati, appearing before a three-judge special bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia, said the most preferred solution to the problem would be settlement but it has not taken place and the uncertainty which is prevailing should not be allowed to continue.
“Settlement, if any possible, we welcome it but we do not want any uncertainty,” he told the bench which reserved judgement for 2pm after two hours of arguments from various parties.
The hearing started with senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi putting forth arguments on behalf of a retired bureaucrat Ramesh Chand Tripathi on why the delivery of 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 includes Justices Aftab Alam and K S Radhakrishnan. It began hearing on the special leave petition at sharp 10.30 am.
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 amidst sharp differences of opinion on the issue of staying the verdict between Justices R V Raveendran and Justices H L Gokhale.
In the wake of differences between them, Justices Raveendran and Gokhale issued a notice on the plea and referred the case to the Chief Justice for constituting a larger bench.
Tripathi’s petition pleaded for exploring the possibility of an out-of-court settlement on 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.
Today’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 one.
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 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.
All parties to the Ayodhya title suit, except the Nirmohi Akhara, oppose the plea of the retired bureaucrat seeking deferment of the verdict.