SC to rule on 70-year-old Ay­o­d­hya land case to­day

Judg­ment To Be Pro­nounced At 10.30am

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New Delhi: In dra­matic fash­ion, the Supreme Court no­ti­fied at 9pm on Fri­day that Satur­day will be judg­ment day for the 70-year-old Ay­o­d­hya dis­pute in­volv­ing own­er­ship

FULL COV­ER­AGE: P 15

claims by Hindu and Mus­lim par­ties over an area of 1,487sq yards in the UP town.

A bench of CJI Ran­jan Go­goi and Jus­tices S A Bobde, D Y Chan­drachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Ab­dul Nazeer de­cided to de­liver the ver­dict on a court hol­i­day, hours af­ter the CJI and Jus­tices Bobde and

Bhushan met the UP chief sec­re­tary and the DGP to take stock of se­cu­rity ar­range­ments in Ay­o­d­hya and the state. Delhi Po­lice too beefed up se­cu­rity at the judges’ houses.

The an­nounce­ment sharp­ened the sus­pense on the ver­dict, keenly awaited by both sides. The Ay­o­d­hya dis­pute has been cen­tral to na­tional pol­i­tics, mark­ing an ide­o­log­i­cal cleav­age be­tween BJP and its “sec­u­lar” op­po­nents. Sev­eral Hindu and Mus­lim or­gan­i­sa­tions have called for calm ahead of the rul­ing while the Cen­tre and states are on alert.

Lucknow: A day be­fore the Supreme Court de­liv­ers its his­toric ver­dict in the decades-old Ram Jan­mb­hoomiBabri Masjid land dis­pute in Ay­o­d­hya, the tem­ple town has been turned into a tight­se­cu­rity fortress — both on ground and vir­tu­ally too.

On Fri­day, a dig­i­tal war-room was set up at the UP po­lice head­quar­ters in Lucknow with a ded­i­cated 15-mem­ber so­cial me­dia unit to be in sync with 3 lakh ‘dig­i­tal vol­un­teers’ on the ground to main­tain round-the-clock vigil on 25 sen­si­tive dis­tricts in UP.

A se­nior po­lice of­fi­cer told TOI that the core dig­i­tal team has been asked to keep a tab on mes­sages run­ning on What­sApp in these dis­tricts through a 24x7 hot­line with vol­un­teers. Po­lice chiefs of these dis­tricts have been di­rected to take as­sis­tance of dig­i­tal sol­diers, who would swiftly re­port sus­pi­cious move­ments or in­flam­ma­tory so­cial me­dia mes­sages. Cit­i­zens too can re­port any com­mu­nally sen­si­tive or deroga­tory mes­sages cir­cu­lat­ing on so­cial me­dia on a What­sApp num­ber (8874327341).

Turn­ing the tem­ple town into a vir­tual can­ton­ment, 12 com­pa­nies of cen­tral para­mil­i­tary forces, six Rapid Ac­tion Force units, 10 com­pa­nies of Pro­vin­cial Armed Con­stab­u­lary, an Anti-Ter­ror Squad and 5,000 po­lice­men marched into Ay­o­d­hya on Fri­day.

Se­nior of­fi­cers who were in­volved in the plan­ning said, “Drone cam­eras are be­ing used in the prepara­tory phase so that de­ploy­ment of forces can be planned cor­rectly.”

DGP O P Singh said, “SPs in all sen­si­tive dis­tricts have also been asked to get in touch with the ra­dio head­quar­ters and up­date any de­vel­op­ment to the so­cial me­dia cell. Po­lice drills to con­trol mobs are be­ing held ev­ery day in sen­si­tive dis­tricts and drones de­ployed for aerial sur­veil­lance in hy

ON ALERT:

per-sen­si­tive spots. IIT-Kan­pur has been roped in to help in aerial sur­veil­lance. All dis­trict mag­is­trates have been put on night duty, along with SPs.”

“We are pre­par­ing a dossier of re­peat dig­i­tal of­fend­ers at each po­lice sta­tion. At least 76 cases have been filed and 42 peo­ple ar­rested for up­load­ing ob­jec­tion­able posts,” he added.

UP CM Yogi Adityanath an­nounced on Thurs­day that two he­li­copters will be on standby in Lucknow and Ay­o­d­hya for se­cu­rity pur­poses.

All schools, col­leges, ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions and train­ing cen­tres in UP will re­main shut on Satur­day and Mon­day. “With Novem­ber 10 be­ing Sun­day, all ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions will re­main closed for three days,” con­firmed ad­di­tional chief sec­re­tary-home,

The no­ti­fi­ca­tion merely said the five-judge con­sti­tu­tion bench would de­liver judg­ment at 10.30am on Satur­day in two cases, Shia Cen­tral Board of Waqf, UP vs Sunni Cen­tral Board of Waqf, UP; and the Ay­o­d­hya land dis­pute case in­volv­ing four suits — filed by Gopal Singh Visharad in 1950, by Nir­mohi Akhara in 1959, Sunni Waqf Board in 1961 and de­ity Ram Lalla Vi­ra­j­man through next friend in 1989. The de­ity and Sunni Waqf Board are locked in lit­i­ga­tion over com­plete own­er­ship over the dis­puted land, while Nir­mohi Akhara seeks priestly rights. Gopal Singh Visharad’s claim is to con­tinue wor­ship­ping the de­ity at the place where it now sits.

The SC no­ti­fi­ca­tion did not in­di­cate if the judg­ment will be unan­i­mous, or by 3-2, or 4-1 majority. How­ever, sources told TOI that there will be more than one judg­ment in the case. The centrestag­e on Satur­day will be taken by the SC’s de­ci­sion on the four suits, which were de­cided by the Al­la­habad HC on Septem­ber 30, 2010.

An in­ter­est­ing facet will be whether SC takes into ac­count the me­di­a­tion panel’s Oc­to­ber 16 re­port in­form­ing it about a set­tle­ment reached be­tween par­ties through ne­go­ti­a­tion. The set­tle­ment’s main point was that Sunni Waqf Board had agreed to give up its claim over the dis­puted site if cer­tain other con­di­tions, in­clud­ing restora­tion of two dozen mosques in Ay­o­d­hya and open­ing up of sev­eral other mosques un­der ASI con­trol for of­fer­ing of prayers.

In­ter­est­ingly, the SC has also listed the 2017 ap­peal of Shia Waqf Board, which has chal­lenged a 1940s or­der of Faizabad dis­trict court dis­miss­ing its suit seek­ing own­er­ship of the dis­puted Babri Masjid. In its ar­gu­ments be­fore the SC, Shia Waqf Board had pledged to give the dis­puted site to Hin­dus for con­struc­tion of Ram tem­ple.

Full re­port on www.toi.in

PTI

Po­lice per­son­nel guard the premises near the Ram Jan­mab­hoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ay­o­d­hya on Fri­day

Yogi Adityanath

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