A schedule for the final hearing of the title suit of the Ayodhya case is expected to be drawn up by the Supreme Court today. A five-judge bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, is likely to fix a date for the beginning of the final hearing, decide on the frequency of hearings and the time to be allotted for it.
With elections just weeks away, the right-wing groups are hoping for an early resolution that would allow commencement of building at the disputed side.
There have even been calls to bypass the court process altogether through an ordinance of executive order by the government. The calls for an ordinance became louder after the top court, during a hearing in October, refused to give an early hearing to the case, saying, "We have our own priorities".
The BJP has been caught between restive allies like Shiv Sena, which accused it of treating the Ayodhya issue to gain traction ahead of election, and some like Nitish Kumar, who insist that the Ram Temple is not an agenda of the NDA and suggest going by the court's verdict.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made it clear that any decision on an executive order on the temple issue cannot be made until the judicial process is over.
In an interview on New Year's day, PM Modi said: "After the judicial process is over, whatever will be our responsibility as the government, we are ready to make all efforts... We have said in our BJP manifesto that a solution would be found to this issue under the ambit of the Constitution".
But in a move high on optics, the government asked the Supreme Court last month for permission to hand over part of the land near the disputed site to the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, the trust overseeing the temple plan.
Today, the top court will also hear a petition by Ram devotees that challenge the acquisition of 2.77 acres and 67.07 acres of land at Ayodhya by the centre in 1993. The petitioners say the Centre has no power to acquire the land and it is illegal.
In 2010, the Allahabad High Court had divided the disputed land into three parts for each of the parties -- the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla. The decision had not satisfied any of the stakeholders, and appeals were soon filed before the Supreme Court.
In March 2017, the court had suggested that the dispute, which simmered for nearly 70 years, was best resolved through negotiations and not a judicial verdict. But both sides involved said they would prefer the court to take a call.