The Supreme Court on Wednesday (18 September) asked the parties involved in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute case to conclude their arguments by 18 October.
"Let us all make a joint effort to conclude the arguments by October 18. If necessary, court may hear the case for an extra hour on Saturdays," said Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
Conclusion of hearings in the case by 18 October will mean the five-judge Constitution bench hearing the case will have a month to write the judgment and pronounce it before 17 November, the retirement day of CJI Gogoi.
The bench also termed a 1991 report by historians RS Sharma, M Athar Ali, DN Jha and Suraj Bhan cited by the Muslim parties to support their claim to the temple site "at highest an opinion", and said "evidentiary value cannot be attached to it".
Appearing for the Muslim parties, on the 26th day of the hearing, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan cited the historians' report to argue that Babri Masjid was not the birthplace of Lord Ram.
However, Justice DY Chandrachud called the methodology adopted for the report as "perfunctory" and said: "At highest, this is an opinion, just an opinion."
He said the report did not include findings of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) report. "Had the historians accessed the ASI report, their report would have been entitled to higher evidentiary value," he said.
Referring to a letter written by the Justice FM Kalifulla-led three-member mediation panel on Tuesday that sought the court's nod to resume talks in the case, the Chief Justice said the parties were free to resort to mediation through the court-appointed panel if they wished to.
The court made it clear that the daily hearings in the case will go on and the proceedings will continue to remain confidential.
The Allahabad High Court in its 2010 judgement partitioned the disputed land into three equal parts for -- the deity Ram Lalla, Nirmohi Akhara and Sunni Waqf Board.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)
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