The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the parties involved in the Ayodhya land dispute case to complete their arguments by October 18, and said they would not get an extra day, The Indian Express reported. Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi is set to retire on November 17. “Even if we complete the arguments by October 18, we will have only four weeks to write and deliver the judgment,” News18 quoted him as saying. “It will be miraculous if we deliver the judgement in four weeks.”
The top court told the lawyers that there will be Dussehra and Diwali holidays next month, and only one advocate of the four Hindu parties will be allowed to give the rejoinder arguments.
The Muslim parties’ lawyers requested the bench to extend the proceedings by an extra hour all five days a week. The Hindu side also assured the judges their submissions in reply would be over in three to four days. The court said it would sit for an extra hour whenever required and urged the lawyers to assist it.
“If any new point is there you can make your submission at the rejoinder stage,” the court told the lawyers. “Enough is enough, today is 32nd day of hearing in the matter, we cannot allow this plea or that.”
Senior lawyer Meenakshi Arora, who is representing the Muslim parties, continued questioning a Archeological Survey of India report on the contested site, which Hindus believe is the birthplace of Ram. The Archeological Survey of India had excavated the area on the orders of the Allahabad High Court. Arora had raised doubts about the report on Wednesday too.
“For the mosque, ASI refers to it as disputed structure while for Ram Chabutra...they refer to it as shrine,” Arora told the court, according to Bar and Bench. “I had raised objections to this.”
The lawyer again questioned the ASI findings on pillar bases and other alleged evidence of a structure predating the mosque. Hindus believe the mosque was built on the ruins of a Ram temple. “The report itself reflects the pillar bases at different levels,” said Arora. “If the pillar bases were not from one single period as stated in the report, then it could not have been part of a one massive contiguous structure as inferred.”
When Justice SA Bobde asked where in its report the archaeology body had said the “massive structure stood on these pillars”, Arora pointed to the report’s summary and contents on Page 80. Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, who is also representing the Muslim parties, said the “yesterday’s argument was futile”. He said the authorship of the report could not be questioned as its authenticity was not in doubt, The Indian Express reported.
On Wednesday, Dhavan had clarified on behalf of the Sunni Waqf Board it had not accepted that Ram was born at Ram Chabutra. Various media organisations had reported on Tuesday that the board had conceded that the platform in the outer courtyard of the site was the deity’s birthplace. “This belief that place of birth was below the middle dome was not there till 1989,” he added.
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