Supreme Court to begin final hearing in Ayodhya dispute case today

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New Delhi: On the eve of the 25th anniversary of the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, the Supreme Court is set to begin its final hearing in the Ayodhya dispute case on Tuesday.

The case will be heard by a bench comprising chief justice Dipak Misra and justices Ashok Bhushan and Abdul Nazeer. The bench which has been specially constituted for the case, will be hearing a total of 13 appeals filed against the 2010 judgement of the Allahabad high court in four civil suits.

The move comes at a time when the demolition of Babri Masjid completes 25 years on Wednesday. The Ram Janmabhoomi movement initiated by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leading to the demolition is considered a historical event that led to a paradigm shift in Indian politics and made cultural nationalism the central theme of electoral politics for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Two and a half decades later, BJP is currently in power in most of the North Indian states.

A three-judge bench of the Allahabad high court in 2010 had ruled that the 2.77 acre land be partitioned equally among three parties—the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

In May, a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court framed criminal conspiracy charges against senior BJP leaders for the demolition of the Babri Masjid. The leaders include former deputy prime minister L.K. Advani, Union minister Uma Bharti, and former Union minister Murli Manohar Joshi.

Former Supreme Court chief justice J.S. Khehar had observed that the dispute must be settled amicably through “a cordial meeting” of all parties and offered mediation to help resolve the matter.

In the run up to the final hearing, the Supreme Court in August had directed all the contesting parties to complete the translation of all documents in English within 12 weeks. The documents were in eight different languages. The Uttar Pradesh government, led by Yogi Adityanath, was also directed to translate evidence recorded for adjudication of the title dispute in the high court within ten weeks.

According to the Press Trust of India, high profile lawyers including senior advocates K. Parasaran and C.S. Vaidyanathan and advocate Saurabh Shamsheri will appear for Lord Ram Lalla, the deity, and additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta will represent the Uttar Pradesh government. Senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Anoop George Chaudhari, Rajeev Dhavan and Sushil Jain will represent other parties including All India Sunni Waqf Board and Nirmohi Akhara.

Politically, the outcome of the hearings will be significant because BJP, which is in power both in the centre and Uttar Pradesh, had promised building consensus over Ram temple in both its national as well as state election manifestos.

All eyes will now be on the Supreme Court as it begins its final hearing in the issue.

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