The Supreme Court is likely to pronounce on Thursday its verdict on a batch of pleas by Muslim groups on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute seeking reconsideration by a larger bench, the observations made by it in a 1994 verdict that a mosque was not integral to Islam.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer will pronounce the verdict, which had reserved it on July 20.
M Siddiq, one of the original litigants of the Ayodhya case who has died and is being represented through his legal heir, had assailed certain findings of the 1994 verdict in the case of M Ismail Faruqui holding that a mosque was not integral to the prayers offered by the followers of Islam.
It was argued by the Muslim groups before a special bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer that the 'sweeping' observation of the apex court in the verdict needed to be reconsidered by a five-judge bench as 'it had and will have a bearing' on the Babri Masjid-Ram Temple land dispute case.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for legal representative of Siddiq, had said that the observation that mosques were not essential for practising Islam were made by the apex court without any enquiry or considering the religious texts.
The Uttar Pradesh government had earlier told the top court that some Muslim groups were trying to delay the hearing in the 'long-pending' Ayodhya temple-mosque land dispute case by seeking reconsideration of the observation in the 1994 verdict that a mosque was not integral to Islam.
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government, had said this dispute has been awaiting final adjudication for 'almost a century'.
He had also said that the issue of the observation was neither taken up by any litigant since 1994, nor in the present appeals which were filed in 2010 after the high court's verdict.
The state government had said the law decided by the top court in the Ismail Farooqi case was 'the correct law which does not deserve to be disturbed either by referring it as belatedly prayed for or otherwise'.
Earlier, Hindu groups had opposed the plea of their Muslim counterparts that the 1994 verdict holding that a mosque was not integral to the prayers offered by the followers of Islam be referred to a larger bench.
The observations were made in the land acquisition matter pertaining to the Ayodhya site and the apex court had to consider two aspects as to whether a mosque could be acquired at all and whether a religious place of worship like a mosque, church or temple was immune from acquisition if it was a place of special significance for that religion and formed its essential and integral part.
The special bench of the apex court is seized of a total of 14 appeals filed against the high court judgement delivered in four civil suits.
A three-judge bench of the Allahabad high court, in a 2:1 majority ruling, had in 2010 ordered that the land be partitioned equally among three parties -- the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
SC also to decide on plea challenging adultery law
The Supreme Court is likely to pronounce on Thursday its judgment on pleas challenging the constitutional validity of the penal law on adultery.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra on August 8 had reserved its verdict after Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, appearing for the Centre, concluded her arguments.
The hearing in the case by the bench, which also comprised justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, went on for six days and had commenced on August 1.
The Centre had favoured retention of penal law on adultery, saying that it is a public wrong which causes mental and physical injury to the spouse, children and the family.
"It is an action willingly and knowingly done with the knowledge that it would hurt the spouse, the children and the family. Such intentional action which impinges on the sanctity of marriage and sexual fidelity encompassed in marriage, which forms the backbone of the Indian society, has been classified and defined by the Indian State as a criminal offence in exercise of its Constitution powers," the Centre had said.
Section 497 of the 158-year-old Indian Penal Code says: 'Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery.'
On January 5, the apex court had referred to a five-judge Constitution bench the plea challenging the validity of the penal law on adultery.
The court had taken a prima facie view that though the criminal law proceeded on 'gender neutrality', the concept was absent in Section 497.