SC declines plea to defer Babri Masjid Ram Janambhoomi title suit till 2019

SC declines plea to defer Babri Masjid Ram Janambhoomi title suit till 2019

 The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined a plea by Sunni Waqf Board to defer the hearing in title dipsute case of Babri Masjid and Ram Janambhoomi at Ayodhya till July 2019 after the next Lok Sabha polls.

The top court also rejected for now a plea by the board to refer the matter to a Constitution bench.

A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra could not begin its final hearing in view of strong opposition by senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Rajeev Dhawan and Dushyant Dave, representing the board, Babri Masjid Action Committee and others. The counsel at one point of time threatened to walk out of the courtroom as the court asked the advocates, representing Ram Lalla and others to start arguments.

The counsel for the board maintained that the pleadings in the matter were not complete. There were about 90,000 pages, which have to be gone through. "Why so much hurry," Sibal asked.

"Perhaps this is the most important litigation in independent India. Every day of hearing will have serious ramifications on the world outside and polity of this country. Hear this case in July 2019 after next general elections and we will be ready. This case will impact the future of the country," Sibal submitted.

Dhawan, for his part, said the root of the issue is if mosque is an essential part of Islam. He raised a Constitution bench decision of 1994. "This case will not finish until October (the time when CJI would retire) and it required to be heard by a larger bench," he added.

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, also supporting him, contended the court should not hear the matter as the issue has been mentioned in election manifesto of the party in power.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Uttar Pradesh government, countered them by saying all the pleadings in the matter have been complete. He termed Dhawan's remarks as "most unfortunate."

The counsel for the board, however, maintained the case would affect the principle of 'secular-democratic republic' of the country. Sibal also tried to rake up a letter written by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy and statement made by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on 'Ram temple' issue.

Expressing "surprise and shock" over the plea made by the counsel, the bench told Sibal, "You are making non-serious comments. We understand it is the most important matter. We are not bothered by what is happening outside the court."

"We have asked you to start hearing from January. We want you to at least open your arguments today," the bench further told him.

Senior advocates Harish Salve, C S Vaidyanatha and K Parasaran and others, representing Ram Janambhoomi Nyas, 'Ram Lalla' and others submitted that the other side was prejudging what the court may decide in the case.

"I strongly oppose their arguments. Their request is extra ordinary. The strongest message for the court to give would be treat this case like any other case," Salve said.

On this, the bench asked the counsel, representing the board, to argue why the matter should be referred to the Constitution bench. On their refusal, the court asked the counsel, representing Ram Lalla to open their arguments. On this, the counsel, representing the board, threatened to walk out of the courtroom, by terming the court's move as "not fair". The court finally put the matter for hearing on February 8.

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