CJI Ranjan Gogoi says delivering Ayodhya verdict in four weeks will be 'miraculous', reiterates 18 Oct deadline to Hindu, Muslim parties

FP Staff

The Supreme Court on Thursday said that it cannot grant even a single extra day beyond 18 October to all petitioners to complete their submissions in the Ayodhya land dispute case.

A five-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, was apprised by lawyers on both the sides that their submissions will be completed by the said date in "all the possibilities and manner," ANI reported.

Gogoi also reminded the lawyers about his retirement on 17 November. "Even if we complete the arguments by 18 October, we will have only four weeks to write and deliver the judgment. It will be miraculous if we deliver the judgment in four weeks," the CJI said.

The Muslim side's lawyers requested the bench to sit for an extra hour all five days a week, while the Hindu side said it will complete their submissions in reply in three to four days.

The Muslim parties on Thursday apologised for questioning the authorship of the 2003 report of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and also expressed regret in the Supreme Court for wasting the Constitution Bench's time in the hearing of the Ayodhya land dispute case. The bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was told by senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan that they do not wish to question the authorship of the summary of the ASI report.

"It is not expected that every page is to be signed. The authorship of the report and the summary need not be questioned. If we had wasted my lords' time, then we apologise for that. There is no point going into that. "The report in question has an author and we are not questioning the authorship," Dhavan, representing the Muslim parties, said.

On Wednesday, senior advocate Meenakshi Arora, also representing the Muslim parties, questioned the ASI report saying every chapter is attributed to an author but the summary has not been attributed to anyone.

The bench, also comprising Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan, and S Abdul Nazeer said that Dhavan in his opening remark has said that he has not forfeited his right to question the report but the evidences cannot be discredited after being accepted by the court.

It is to be noted that CJI Gogoi is set to retire on 17 November and he has to deliver the judgement before that as he had entirely heard the case from the beginning of the arguments. The court had also said that simultaneously the mediation process can go along with the hearing and if an amicable settlement is reached through by it, the same can be filed before the court. The day-to-day hearing started on 6 August after a court-appointed mediation panel failed to resolve the dispute through amicable settlement.

Thursday was the 32nd day of the day-to-day hearing on a batch of appeals filed by Muslim and Hindu parties challenging the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, which has ruled to divide the disputed site into three equal parts.

The bench will write the landmark judgement for ownership of 2.77-acre land once the arguments are concluded by lawyers of the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla€"the three parties in the case.

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