NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed hope that all parties involved in the Ayodhya land dispute case will conclude their arguments by October 18 so that judges too can write the complete judgement within a stipulated time.
The five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said, “As per the estimate of tentative dates to finish the hearing in the case, we can say that the submissions have to be likely completed by October 18. The Bench is hopeful let us all make joint efforts.”
"There is an ancillary issue. We have received a letter that some parties want to settle the matter by way of mediation," the bench said, adding they may do so and proceedings before the mediation panel can remain confidential.
This means the apex court will have a month to write the judgment and pronounce it before November 17, the scheduled retirement day of CJI.
The bench also stated that if the mediation panel wants to continue talks then it can continue simultaneously the process with court hearings.
The bench, however, said that the mediation would continue to be confidential proceedings as directed earlier.
The day to day hearing in the apex court will also go on.
The response came on the letter written by Sunni Wakf board and Nirvani Akhara to the SC appointed mediation panel comprising ex-SC judge F M I Kalifulla, renowned mediator Sriram Panchu and spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravishankar for the resumption of mediation for a negotiated settlement.
The court also hinted at holding hearings in the case for extended one hour each day, with special sittings on Saturday, which is officially an off day for the apex court.
The apex court, which on March 8 referred the matter for mediation, had asked for in-camera proceedings to be completed within eight weeks, but later granted time till August 15 after the panel's earlier report said that the mediators were "optimistic" about an amicable solution.
The top court had fixed the seat for mediation process in Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh, around 7 km from Ayodhya, and said adequate arrangements, including the venue of the mediation, place of stay of the mediators, their security, travel should be forthwith arranged by the state government.
The court had perused a report about the progress of the mediation process till July 18 and said that its contents will remain confidential.
Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex 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.
On December 6, 1992, the Babri Masjid, constructed at the disputed site in the 16th century by Shia Muslim Mir Baqi, was demolished.
(With PTI Inputs)