In a late Monday evening surprise development, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court called upon rival parties in the much-debated Ayodhya case to explore possibilities of a last-minute amicable settlement on the vexed issue.
Even as a three-judge special bench of the high court had already declared its decision to pronounce the verdict in the case on September 24, one of the judges Justice Dharam Veer Sharma chose to hear the application and pass an order.
Earlier in the day, the HC registry had refused to accept the application on the ground that only one of the three judges was available as the other two judges, Justice S U Khan and Justice Sudhir Agarwal were currently holding court in Allahabad.
While issuing the order, Justice Sharma attached much significance to a 1994 ruling by five-judge Supreme Court bench on a petition moved by one Dr M Ismail Farooqui against acquisition of all land by the Union government in and around the disputed Ayodhya after the demolition of the 16th century Babri Mosque in December 6, 1992. The apex court had then favoured an amicable settlement on the dispute.
The case was cited by the petitioner Ramesh Chandra Tripathi, who aroused apprehensions that any verdict at this juncture could vitiate the communal environment across the country.
Arguing on his behalf, senior advocate Prashant Chandra felt that the fallout of the judgment could adversely affect the forthcoming Commonwealth Games, hence it was advisable to postpone the verdict for now.
While emphasising that such a ruling by the Supreme Court needed to be adhered to by all courts across the country, Justice Sharma ordered that the application be placed before the full three-judge bench on September 16.