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As the Supreme Court today (Monday, October 29) posted for January first week a decision on date for hearing the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit, leaders of BJP and other Sangh Parivar outfits voiced their resentment, some of them asking the Narendra Modi government to bring an Ordinance to facilitate construction of Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya.

The court said that the issue will come up before appropriate bench in January. No decision was taken on Monday on the date of hearing and the composition of the bench.

The government refrained from coming out with a statement. Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told a news channel that “a large number of people want the case to be decided soon”. However, he added, “We respect the Supreme Court decision. I have nothing more to say on this.”

Reacting to the rescheduled hearing, his colleague, Union minister Giriraj Singh remarked that “Hindus are running out of patience on the Ram temple issue.”

“The Congress has decided to make it a Hindu-Muslim issue. Shri Ram is the cornerstone of faith of the Hindus. Hindus are running out of patience. I fear what will happen if Hindus lose out of patience…,” he said.

Vinaya Katiyar, a Bajrang Dal leader and former BJP lawmaker closely associated with the temple movement, alleged “Congress pressure” behind the decision. Katiyar told News18, “It seems that everything is happening due to pressure by Congress and that these dates are because Kapil Sibal and Prashant Bhushan do not want it to be heard daily.”

The Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph has directed to list the long-running Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit in the first week of January for deciding the date of commencement of arguments in the matter.

“We have other priorities,” said Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, when the Uttar Pradesh government argued that it was a 100-year-old issue that should be taken up on priority by the government.

The chief justice also said that an “appropriate bench” would decide when to take up daily hearings, indicating that he may not even be one of the judges deciding on the decades-old dispute.

Last month, a top court bench headed by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra had cleared the decks for resumption of proceedings in the title suit, also called the Ayodhya matter, and posted it to be heard on October 29.

On September 27, the bench had in a majority opinion of 2:1 declined to review a 1994 ruling that the government can acquire land that a mosque is built on as a mosque is not integral to Islam. Many believed that decision meant the temple-mosque dispute can be taken up without any delay.

The majority opinion, authored by Justice Bhushan and supported by Justice Misra, had ordered the Ayodhya appeals “which are awaiting considerations by this Court for quite a long period, to be now listed in week commencing October 29, 2018 for hearing”.

Usually, this would entail the appeals returning to the Bench comprising Justices Bhushan, Nazeer and a new third judge, replacing Justice Misra, who retired on October 2.

However, the appeals which were posted on Monday before a Bench had neither Justice Bhushan nor Justice Nazeer.

The hearings had got deflected on the question of reference to a Constitution Bench.

Unhappy at the order, BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Keshav Prasad Maurya said, “I don’t want to comment since it’s the decision of Supreme Court. However, the adjournment of hearing doesn’t send a good message.”

Congress leader P Chidambaram accused the BJP of “polarising views” on Ayodhya issue before elections. “Congress party’s position is that the matter is before SC, everyone should wait until SC decides. I don’t think we should jump the gun,” he added. VHP working president Alok Kumar said the organisation will not wait “eternally” for the verdict and wants a law to build Ram Temple in Ayodhya

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