The security of the five judges on the Constitution bench who will deliver the verdict in the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute on Saturday has been strengthened.
The judges who will deliver the verdict are SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan, SA Nazeer and CJI Ranjan Gogoi.
Security was reinforced at the residences of all five judges of the Supreme Court bench, a Delhi Police officer said on condition of anonymity.
The judges wrapped up a marathon, sometimes acrimonious, 40-day hearing on October 16 by reserving its judgment, which was expected to be delivered next week before Gogoi retires on November 17.
In a tweet late on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed for peace and harmony. “The verdict will not be someone’s loss or victory. I appeal to countrymen to ensure that the tradition peace, unity and harmony in the country is upheld,” he said.
The Constitution bench headed by CJI Gogoi has heard a batch of cross-appeals against a 2010 Allabahad high court judgment. The original verdict ordered the division of the disputed 2.77 acres of land in Ayodhya into three equal parts to be divided among the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara, a religious denomination; and the Ram Lalla Virajman, which represents the child deity.
A large section of Hindus believes that the disputed site marks the birthplace of the warrior-god Ram and that a temple that stood on the location was destroyed in the 16th century during the rule of Mughal emperor Babar and a mosque, the Babri Masjid, was constructed on its ruins. On December 6, 1992, Hindu activists campaigning for the construction of a Ram temple on the site demolished the mosque, triggering a cycle of violence and riots across the country.
As night fell on Friday, a top security alert was in place nationwide to prevent violence on the day of the most anticipated court verdict in India ever in a case that both Hindu and Muslim community leaders have followed intently.