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Ayodhya dispute: CJI Dipak Misra says SC won't hear political or religious arguments; next hearing on 14 March

The Supreme Court commenced its hearing into a crucial hearing on a batch of petitions in the politically-sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute case on Thursday, and said that it would not hear arguments based on politics or religion, Times Now reported.

Times Now quoted Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra as saying that poor citizens were waiting for justice, and 700 petitions in the case "can be disposed by devoting a few hours".

But due to the incomplete documentation process, the Supreme Court fixed 14 March as the next date of hearing, according to ANI.

During the course of an hour-long hearing, there were heated exchanges between two senior advocates appearing for different parties after one of them suggested they should exchange the synopsis of their likely arguments.

File image of the Supreme Court. AP

File image of the Supreme Court. AP

A special bench headed by Misra was hearing the civil appeals, arising out of 2010 verdict of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court, which in a 2:1 majority ruling, had ordered that the disputed land be partitioned equally among three parties — the Sunni Waqf
Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla. The bench also comprised Justices Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer.

During the hearing, senior advocate CS Vaidyanathan, representing the deity Ram Lalla Virajman suggested that opposite parties should give synopsis of their line of arguments to the court and exchange with them.

This argument of Vaidyanathan made senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan appearing for one of the original parties raise his voice and say that respondents (Uttar Pradesh government and Hindu bodies) can't dictate on what propositions he would argue.

"Why should I tell you what will be my arguments. You cannot dictate me. I will argue the way I like. If you want to hear my proposition then I must say Vaidyanathan you are wrong. You all are wrong. This is my proposition," Dhavan said.

To this, the bench intervened and said that "The same arguments can be made by them for you Dr. Dhavan".

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for Uttar Pradesh government intervened and said "This kind of hyperbole should be avoided".

At the fag end of hearing, the bench said that there was no point for Dhavan to get angry as the court had not asked for synopsis from anybody.

Giving the heated exchange between Dhavan and Vaidyanathan, a poetic colour, the Misra said, "We do not ask for propositions which lead to assumptions, leading to presumptions, leading to untruth, leading to folly, leading to danger, leading to guilt, which can kill a man".

Dhavan said that he is not guilty of all that.

The Chief Justice of India replied and said that "Vaidyanathan did not ask for propositions from you".

The court in its order asked the original parties of the title suits to file English translation of the documents exhibited by them in the court.

The bench also expressed its reservation on hearing the matter on day-to-day basis and said, once the matter will start it will go on in normal course.

When some lawyers including senior advocate Chirag Uday Singh raised the issue of impleading certain individuals including film director Shyam Benegal and writer Kiran Nagarkar as parties, the bench said the case was a "pure land dispute" in which appeals and cross-appeals have been filed.

The bench, however, said that the intervention of Benegal and others would be decided at later stage. However, the counsel for Muslim Organisations, Hindu bodies and the Uttar Pradesh government together made the statement that "no unconnected individuals be allowed to intervene".

On being informed by parties that pleadings were almost complete, the bench asked them to file within two weeks the English translations of documents, exhibits and excerpts from vernacular books, which have been used in the high court.

Mehta said that the "appeals were ripe for the hearing" and over 524 exhibits have already been filed.

Out of 524, 504 are exhibited documents and 20 are books like Ramayana, Ramcharitmanas and Shrimad Bhagwad Gita, he said adding the testimonies of 87 witnesses, examined in the high court and the report of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) have also been filed.

The top court asked its registry to provide copies of the video cassettes, which were part of high court records, to parties of the case on actual cost.

Senior advocate K Prasaran appearing for one of the Hindu bodies, "What kind of evidence will they (appellants) bring from 30,000 years ago. The incident relates to the Treta Yuga".

He said that court should confine themselves to the evidence on record.

Meanwhile, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who has offered to mediate in the row, met Muslim clerics in Bengaluru on Thursday.

Thursday's hearing assumes significance as a special bench headed by Misra had rejected the submission by Sunni Waqf Board and others that the pleas be heard after the 2019 general elections.

The bench had on 5 December, 2017, directed the listing of the matter on 8 February after senior lawyers Kapil Sibal, Rajeev Dhavan and Dushyant Dave, appearing for some of the petitioners, had pressed for postponing of the hearing, saying it would have repercussions on the country's polity.

They had also sought a hearing by a five-judge Constitution Bench.

Sibal, who had appeared for Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board, had told the three-judge bench that it "should not hear the matter, which has repercussions on the polity of the country" until after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

He had urged the court to have the hearing in July 2019, apparently suggesting that the outcome of the hearing by the top court would have a bearing on 2019 general elections.

However, senior counsel Harish Salve, who appeared for the other side, had said that as far as the court was concerned, it was "just a case" and the repercussion of the outcome of the case was none of its outlook.

He had said that "it is being presumed which way the verdict will go".

After the court rejected the submission for postponing the hearing till 2019, including hearing of the matter by a Constitution Bench, it asked senior counsel CS Vaidyanathan, who appeared for the deity, to commence his case on 5 December. At that point, Sibal, Dhavan and Dave sought the leave of the court to withdraw from the hearing.

On 7 December, the court took a dim view of the conduct of certain senior lawyers describing it as "shameful". "What happened on 6 December was shameful. What happened on 5 December was extremely shameful," Misra had said.

"Unfortunately, a small group of lawyers think they can raise their voice. We make it clear that raising of voice will not be tolerated. Raising of voice only shows your (lawyers) inadequacy and incompetence," he had said.

With inputs from agencies


Published Date: Feb 08, 2018 15:29 PM | Updated Date: Feb 08, 2018 20:41 PM

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