The postponement of the Ayodhya verdict on Thursday provided temporary relief for the cautious government, which was bracing itself for the eventuality on Friday.
The security establishment, however, continues to be edgy, as the feeling is that the next date of hearing in the apex court on September 28, is close to the opening ceremony of Commonwealth Games on October 3.
Much depends on what happens on Tuesday, when the SC hears the parties to one of India’s longest running disputes, and after that on how soon the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad HC comes into picture.
The big question being discussed in government and legal circles is whether the fate of the case is linked to the retirement of Justice Dharam Veer Sharma on October 1. He is one of the three judges on the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court, which heard the case.
“The legal position is that the bench would have to be constituted afresh and hearing would have to start from scratch, if a judge on the bench retires without delivering the verdict,” said a law ministry official.
Asked about the possibility of granting extension to the judge, the official said, “It is a remote possibility, since Article 224 of the Constitution allows this only if a large number of cases are pending cases.”
The official said any such proposal would have to be initiated by the chief justice of the respective high court.
The key ministries, including Home, Defence and Law, will spend the next two-three days finalising the government’s stand before the SC.
Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily cancelled a private visit to Dubai to be in the Capital. A Group of Ministers meeting on the Bhopal tragedy slated for Friday has also been postponed.
The government has also extended till September 29 the ban on bulk SMSes and MMSes. An order in this regard was formally issued by the Ministry of Communications in consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs.