The judgment in the politically sensitive Ayodhya land dispute case is historic in more than one sense as it is perhaps for the first time in the 69-year history of the Supreme Court that a verdict was delivered on Saturday. Judges hold court five days a week, from Monday to Friday, and in extraordinary circumstances hold hearing in the courtroom on Saturdays or any other holidays. But it was rare that Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi chose Saturday to deliver such an important judgment, a senior official of the apex court said.
"There have been hearing of cases in extraordinary circumstances on Saturdays, Sundays and even during nights. However I don't remember that any judgment has been delivered on Saturday and perhaps it is one of the rare instances," H K Juneja, the PPS to the chief justice of India, said.
He also recalled an instance relating to the demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992, when then chief justice of India M N Venkatachaliah had a special sitting at his residence in the evening during which the apex court had expressed anguish over then Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh failing in his promise of protecting the 16th-century domed structure.
Settling a fractious issue that goes back more than a century, the Supreme Court in a historic verdict on Saturday backed the construction of a Ram temple by a government trust at the disputed site in Ayodhya and ruled that an alternative five-acre plot must be found for a mosque in the Hindu holy town.
Delivering a unanimous verdict on a case that has long polarised the country and frayed the secular tapestry of Indian society, a five-judge bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said the faith of Hindus that Lord Ram was born at the site was undisputed, and he is symbolically the owner of the land. Justice Gogoi is due to retire on November 17.