Excitement, anxiety mark apex court verdict on Ayodhya row

The court of Chief Justice S H Kapadia, who headed the three-judge bench hearing the plea for deferment of the verdict by the Allahabad High Court, was jam-packed right from 9 a.m though the case came up for arguments as scheduled only at 10.30 a.m.

Arguments on the issue raised by retired bureaucrat Ramesh Chandra Tripathi lasted for two hours before the bench adjourned the proceedings at 12.35 p.m to discuss the matter in chamber after Justice Kapadia announced that the order will be given at 2 p.m, prolonging the anxiety.

Tripathi's petition was the first case listed for the day in the CJI's court. Justices Aftab Alam and K S Radhakrishnan were the other judges on the bench.
It wasn't just the news hungry media personnel but hordes of lawyers including those from Lucknow and Ayodhya too descended in the hall.
They heard with rapt attention the arguments opened by senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi for petitioner Tripathi and submissions made by others including Attorney General G E Vahanvati.

Many advocates who had nothing to do with the case also squeezed in out of sheer curiosity.

So packed was the hall that the huge gate at the Chief Justice's court-- which is always kept shut to avoid noise disturbances-- had to be kept open, as security personnel had a tough time in regulating the entry of advocates, media persons and visitors.
The main door could not be closed and had to be kept wide open as advocates and visitors even queued up outside the gate to get a glimpse of the proceedings, however, inaudible be it.

There was hardly any room either at the main court hall or the two visitors' galleries flanking the entrance.

Within minutes after the proceedings were adjourned, advocates, media personnel and visitors returned to the court hall from 1 p.m to hear the pronouncement lest they miss out on the keenly awaited moment.

Rohatgi and Soli Sorabjee, one of the counsels, had a tough time negotiating the swarming people to take their place in the front row of the courtroom and were heard asking that way be given for them.

And finally when the pronouncement was made, it was just a two-line order from the Chief Justice, that finally paved the way for the Allahabad High Court to deliver its verdict in the 60-year old dispute. Many wondered why no reason was given by the Bench for its order.

In fact, Senior Counsel Ravi Shankar Prasad requested the Bench to fix a date for the Allahabad High Court to pronounce its verdict, but the judges left their seats without any answer.

Interestingly, today's three-judge Bench had a secular colour as the judges belonged to three different communities. Justice Kapadia is a Zoroastrian (Parsi community) while Justice Aftab Alam is a Muslim and Justice Radhakrishnan a Hindu.

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