SC to treat Ayodhya case as a ‘land dispute’, next hearing March 14

SC to treat Ayodhya case as a ‘land dispute’, next hearing March 14
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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked parties before the Allahabad high court in the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi title dispute case to file within two weeks English translation of documents exhibited by them.
A special bench headed by chief justice Dipak Misra said it will hear the appeals on March 14 and clarified that it never intended to hear the case on a “day-to-day basis”.
The bench, also comprising justices Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer, said it will deal with the instant matter as a “pure land dispute” and indicated that impleadment applications of those which were not before the high court will be dealt with later.
The top court said the excerpts of vernacular books, which have been relied upon in the case, be translated in English and be filed within two weeks from Thursday.
The apex court also directed its registry to provide copies of video cassettes, which were part of high court records, to parties on actual cost.
The hearing assumes significance in the wake of the rejection of the vehement submission by Sunni Waqf Board and others that the pleas be heard after the next general elections.
The bench had made clear on December 5 last year that it will begin final hearing on the petitions from February 8 and had asked the parties to file the requisite pleadings in the meantime.
Senior lawyers, including Kapil Sibal and Rajeev Dhavan, had contended that the civil appeals be either referred to a five- or seven-judge bench or posted in 2019 keeping in mind the sensitive nature of the case and its ramifications on the country’s secular fabric and polity.
The top court had asked the advocates on records (AoRs), dealing with as many 14 civil appeals against the 2010 judgement of the Allahabad high court in the land dispute, to ensure that all requisite documents are translated, filed and numbered before the apex court Registry.
The special bench of the apex court is seized of a total 14 appeals filed against the High Court judgement delivered in four civil suits.
A three-judge bench of the Allahabad High Court, in a 2:1 majority ruling, had in 2010 ordered that the land be partitioned equally among three parties – the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.