The Supreme Court of India on Wednesday set a deadline of Oct. 18 for all stakeholders to complete their arguments in a case pertaining to 1992 Babri Mosque demolition.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that if parties want to amicably resolve the matter through mediation, they can still go ahead with it.
Gogoi remarked the court may extend the hearing by one hour and also sit on Saturdays if required and finish the hearings. However, he made it clear that the proceedings will remain confidential.
The chief justice is set to retire on Nov. 17.
The dispute centers around a site at Ayodhya, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, where the 16th-century Babri Mosque was demolished in 1992 by Hindus, who see it is as the birthplace of the Hindu god Ram.
The demolition lead to riots and the deaths of thousands over the years.
In 1885, a Hindu religious body asked a court for permission to construct a temple to honor the Hindu deity Ram inside the premises of the Babri Mosque, said to have been built by Mughal Emperor Babur in 1526. Permission was denied.
In 1949, a group of Hindus entered the mosque premises and installed an idol of Ram there. Declaring the area disputed land, the government placed the premises under lockdown, with the idol remaining inside with one official and one Hindu appointed as stewards of grounds.
In 1986, the local Faizabad administration opened the premises to Hindus, allowing them to carry out their rituals.
In December 1992, thousands of activists from extremist Hindu groups and political parties along with BJP leaders entered the mosque and demolished it, erecting a Hindu temple in its place.
The dispute has been languishing in India’s legal system for years with no final outcome in sight