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Surpeme Court to hear Ayodhya case on 10 January

Priyanka Mittal
The Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case in Ayodhya could become central to 2019 Lok Sabha elections, further polarizing voter preferences

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday said further orders in the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute would be passed by an appropriate bench on 10 January.

The matter will be listed before a newly constituted three-judge bench that will decide the way forward.

The case has been on the back burner for a while despite attempts by Bharatiya Janata Party politician Subramanian Swamy, who is an intervener in the case, to get an early hearing.

The issue could become central to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, further polarizing voter preferences.

The apex court on 27 September last year refused to refer to a larger bench its 1994 judgement holding that a mosque was not integral to the practice of Islam.

The issue had arisen from a judgement in the Ismail Faruqui vs Union of India case, where the Supreme Court considered the acquisition of a religious place and held that a mosque was not integral to the practice of Islam.

On 2 February 2017, the Supreme Court said the matter would be heard as a “pure land dispute”, directed the registry to complete procedural requirements, and asked the parties to bring on record all documents, exhibits and translations for final arguments.

The apex court is hearing 13 appeals filed against a 2010 judgement of the Allahabad high court in four civil suits.

These challenge the high court verdict that mandated a three-way division of the disputed 2.77-acre site.

The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court had ruled in favour of partitioning the land equally among three parties-the Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and ‘Ram Lalla' (infant Lord Ram), which is represented by the Hindu Mahasabha.

A civil suit for deciding the title of the property on which the Babri Masjid stood before it was demolished on 6 December 1992 had been filed before the high court.

The Supreme Court stayed this decision in 2011. The Shia Central Waqf Board of Uttar Pradesh told the Supreme Court in August that it was amenable to building a mosque in a Muslim-dominated area, at a reasonable distance from the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site.