New Delhi: Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi has decided to cancel a multi-nation official foreign visit this month, apparently to make sure there is enough time to write the judgment in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case and deliver it before he retires.
CJI Gogoi was set to fly out to Dubai on 18 October before proceeding to Cairo, Brazil and New York to attend some programmes. He was scheduled to return to India on 31 October. The trip had been cleared by the Narendra Modi government last month, sources in the Supreme Court told ThePrint.
The Supreme Court will be closed for a Diwali break from 27 October to 3 November.
On Tuesday, however, Gogoi’s office informed the Modi government about the cancellation of the trip. No official reason was assigned for the decision, said the sources.
The CJI plans to ensure the judgment in the highly contentious case is delivered before his retirement, added the sources. Gogoi is set to retire on 17 November.
Last month, during hearing in the matter, Gogoi had urged counsel for the parties to make all efforts to ensure that hearing in the case was concluded by 18 October. He had also indicated that the bench was ready to “sit an hour extra every day and even on Saturdays to complete the hearing if needed”.
The last lap
The five-judge bench hearing the matter comprises Justice S.A. Bobde, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer, apart from CJI Ranjan Gogoi. It has been holding daily hearings in the case, which is expected to settle one of independent India’s most contentious religious disputes.
The bench will decide 14 appeals against the 2010 judgment of a three-judge bench of the Allahabad High Court, which had ruled that the 2.27 acres of disputed land in Ayodhya should be equally divided among the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
The CJI Gogoi-led bench has so far held 39 hearings, with the last one likely to conclude Wednesday.
Attempts to resolve the dispute through mediation have failed.
The Hindu sides have stuck to their claim that a Ram temple at the site of Lord Ram’s birthplace was demolished during the reign of Mughal emperor Babur to construct a mosque — which was demolished by Kar Sevaks in 1992. The Muslim groups have argued that there is no evidence of a temple at the spot where the now-demolished Babri Masjid stood.
A verdict in the case is expected next month.