The much-awaited daily hearing of Ayodhya Ram Mandir hearing has been adjourned to at least January 2019, throwing cold water on hopes that the matter would be settled before elections in May next year.
The adjournment was done by a bench headed by the chief justice of India Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
“The honorable bench said this matter may be placed before the bench in the month of January. Then they will decide the dates for the (day-to-day) hearing of the matter,” said one of the advocates involved in the matter.
Chief Justice Gogoi made it clear that the case will not be given an ‘urgent hearing’ and said that the hearing will take place in “January, February or March” next year.
Some of the advocates, especially those representing some of the Hindu parties, had urged the bench to start the hearings immediately after Deepawali next month.
The latest development pours cold water over hopes by some in the Bharatiya Janata Party that the decades-long matter could be resolved before the general election of April-May 2019.
It is believed that the case can be resolved in around two months if daily hearings are conducted.
The latest remark by the court that the case will not be given an ‘urgent hearing’ also suggests that there may not be a day-to-day hearing.
It is possible that the decision to start the hearing only from next year has been taken to avoid too much ‘politics’ being conducted over the communally sensitive issue.
“We were very hopeful that it would start soon,” said Varun Kumar Sinha, advocate for Hindu Mahasabha. “This will take a few months once the hearing starts.”
BJP politician and lawyer Subramanian Swamy said he respected the court’s decision to take up the matter next year, but said the Parliament should act before that to make way a temple at the disputed site.
“The court is not above parliament,” Swamy said. “If the Supreme Court can consider if it is a violation of the constitutional norms..it’s their prerogative.”
“We should bring an ordinance proclaiming a law that the land should be given to Hindu organizations for building a temple,” he said, adding that he will take up the matter in parliament.
The Ayodhya debate centres around the land known today as Ram Janmabhoomi, on which the Babri Mosque was built in 1528.
In the Ramayana, Ayodhya is the birthplace of the god-king Rama, the son of Dasharatha, the ruler of Ayodhya, and his queen Kausalya.
The first recorded instances of religious violence in Ayodhya occurred in the 1850s over a nearby mosque at Hanuman Garhi.
The Babri mosque was attacked by Hindus in the process. Since then, Hindu groups made occasional demands that they should have the possession of the site and that they should be allowed to build a temple on the site, all of which were denied by the British colonial government.
The Babri mosque was brought down by Hindu activists in 1992 under the watch of a Congress government at the center.