New Delhi: In a major development, Section 144 was on Sunday imposed in Ayodhya till December 10. The move comes a day before the Supreme Court will resume day-to-day hearings in the decades-long Ayodhya land dispute case after it reconvenes after Dussehra holidays. The coming week is expected to be the final one of hearings in the case, as the same are likely to end on October 17, a day sooner than the initial schedule.

The case is being heard by a five-judge Constitution bench of the apex court. The bench is headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi and also comprises Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazir. The judgment in the case is to be pronounced by November 17, which is the day the incumbent CJI demits his office.

The Muslim side has been given time till October 14 to make its arguments after which, for two days, the Hindu side can argue its case. On October 17, the two sides will make their final arguments about the relief that they are seeking.

The apex court began its day-to-day hearings in the case, on August 6, after a three-member mediation panel appointed by it to try and settle the issue between the two sides, the SC observed, had failed to do so. However, the panel recently said that the Sunni Waqf Board and the Nirvani Akhara had written to it expressing interest in restarting the negotiation, post which the top court said that the if the two parties want to settle the issue between them, they can do so.

The three-member mediation panel comprised former SC judge Justice Kalifulla, spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate and renowned mediator Sriram Manchu.

Fourteen appeals have been filed in the SC against the Allahabad High Court judgment of 2010, which ordered that the disputed 2.77-acre land be divided equally among the three parties, i.e the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

Recently, a group of Muslim intellectuals appealed to the Muslim litigants to give the land to the Hindu brothers as a gesture of peace. The request, however, was turned down by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB).