New Delhi, Oct 16 2019: Daily hearings in the politically sensitive Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute in Ayodhya are likely to end today after 40 days, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said on Tuesday.
The court is expected to announce a verdict in the 134-year-old title suit before the Chief Justice leaves office on November 17.
On Tuesday, senior advocate K Parasaran, appearing for Ram Lalla Virajman or the "infant Lord Ram", one of the parties to the dispute, said Hindus had been fighting for centuries for the place believed to be the birthplace of Ram and argued that Muslims could pray at any mosque they wanted.
"Muslims can pray in any other mosque as well. There are 55-60 mosques in Ayodhya alone. But for Hindus, it is the birthplace of Lord Ram. We can’t change the birthplace," said Mr Parasaran, a former advocate general.
In a lighter moment in the court, the Chief Justice asked Rajeev Dhavan, who represents the Muslim petitioners, if he felt the court was asking enough questions of the Hindu parties. "We are saying this on a lighter note. Not everything has to be taken seriously. Today is the 39th day," the Chief Justice said.
On Monday, the Supreme Court resumed daily hearings after a week-long Dussehra break. It heard from Muslim respondents who said there was no claim for the title of the land in Ayodhya by Hindus until 1989. They asked for the restoration of the Babri Masjid as it stood before it was demolished in December 1992.
The Uttar Pradesh government has banned any gathering of four or more people in Ayodhya to prevent any trouble in anticipation of the court verdict.
The five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India began day-to-day proceedings on August 6 after mediation proceedings failed to find an amicable solution to the dispute.
Fourteen appeals have been filed in the top court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties - the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
Many Hindus believe the land was the birthplace of Lord Ram and a mosque was built there on the ruins of an ancient temple. The 16th century Babri mosque at the spot was razed in December 1992 by right-wing activists. The destruction of the mosque sparked riots in the country.
Several mediation attempts have failed to produce a solution to the decades-old dispute.