Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia will head a three-judge Bench to hear the Ayodhya dispute case in the Supreme Court on Tuesday. On September 23 the Supreme Court by an interim order, had stayed the pronouncement of verdict by the Allahabad High Court scheduled for September 24 on four title suits relating to the Ayodhya dispute.

A Bench of Justices R.V. Raveendran and H.L. Gokhale, which stayed the pronouncement of the verdict are not part of the three-judge Bench, which is an entirely new one.

Besides the CJI, the other two are Justice Aftab Alam and Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan. These three judges constitute the Forest Bench hearing cases relating to environment.

While entertaining a special leave petition (SLP) to defer the judgment for solving the dispute through negotiations, Justice Raveendran and Justice Gokhale had referred the matter to the CJI for posting it before a larger Bench in view of the divergent views expressed by them on the staying of the pronouncement of the verdict by the High Court.

Since Justice D.V. Sharma, one of the three judges on the Special Bench of the Allahabad High Court that had reserved the verdict in the title suits is due to retire on October 1, the SLP has been listed for further hearing on September 28.

Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati, who has been asked to assist the court, is to tell the court the Centre's stand on the issue. On that day a decision to continue the stay or to vacate it, is expected to be taken by the three-judge Bench.

The petitioner Ramesh Chandra Tripathi was aggrieved over the Allahabad High Court order of September 17 refusing to defer the judgment to explore an opportunity for an amicable settlement through negotiations between the parties to the dispute.

In his SLP, he contended that when there was a crisis in Jammu and Kashmir, when most of the northern States were flood-hit and when Delhi was to host the Commonwealth Games within a few days, pronouncement of the judgment would worsen the situation and revive tensions.

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