SC can review entire Ayodhya judgment
The Verdict: Land division may be of prime focus
Legal luminaries say the Supreme Court can review the entire verdict of the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court if any party to the Ayodhya dispute moves the apex court.
According to them, since the SC is the highest and last arbiter in any legal dispute, it will review and ‘do complete justice’ to the case. While the HC has dealt the suit relating to the disputed structure of Ram Janmabhumi-Babri Masjid as a civil case but with restricted jurisdiction, the SC will take a wholesome view as it will become the court of first appeal.
This is because though HC is an appellate court in the Ayodhya dispute it acted like a trial court as the case was transferred from the lower court.
The scope of the case taken up by the apex court is wider. While taking up the case, the SC will look into it through Article 136 of the Constitution which deals with procedural matters as well as Article 142 (relating to enforcement of decrees and orders of the SC).
Since it will be the first appeal, it is normally admitted. Under Article 142, “it can pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any matter...”.
Asked about judicial procedure in SC, apex court advocate Mohan Katarki told Deccan Herald: “SC can review the entire order of the HC as it will have powers under Article 136 read with Article 142. It is more so because it will go to apex court as a matter of first appeal. SC has wider powers compared to HC. Also, several key questions may crop up especially relating to the verdict that the disputed land be divided among the three parties when, as some have questioned, there was no prayer for the same”.
Already rival parties to the dispute have made it clear that they would move special leave petitions before the SC saying the evidence they put forth was not “appreciated by the HC bench”.
The evidence which will be submitted to the SC will be the same as that given before the HC and it is unlikely that the SC will ask for further evidence, say eminent lawyers.
The normal procedure is, the SC will grant leave, issue notices to all the 27 parties to the dispute and ask them to file replies. After replies are filed, the court grants leave and matter goes to the SC registry for numbering.
How much time SC may take to decide the issue? Although, at present, the SC is running a backlog of up to five years in civil cases, Katarki says the court has powers to take it up out of turn.
If no appeal is made before SC within the prescribed 90 days, then the HC bench can appoint an expert to execute its judgement. The implementation of the verdict will be through a magistrate who will have to execute the decree by visiting the spot.