SC faces questions why polygamy more important than mosque

SC faces questions why polygamy more important than mosque

The Supreme Court on Friday faced repeated questions why the issue of polygamy was more important than mosque in the hearing of Babri Masjid and Ram Janmabhoomi civil disputes which was marked by heated exchanges and high drama.

A bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra faced a piquant situation when senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan aggressively questioned the top court for referring a separate case on the validity of polygamy and various forms of marriages to a five-judge bench on March 26 but failing to do so in the present case.

The top court rejected the plea made by the Muslims side to refer immediately the issue pertaining to Babri Masjid and Ram Janmabhoomi to a five-judge Constitution bench.

The counsel, for his part, kept on haranguing until the bench assured him that any interim order passed in the matter would not affect the proceedings and a decision on referring the present to the Constitution bench would be taken after hearing all the parties.

Representing the Muslims side, he has earlier asked the court to refer a 1994 five-judge ruling -- that Mosque is not essential to the practice of Islam -- to a Constitution bench for reconsideration saying it would come in the way of determining the present dispute.

Opening his arguments, he asked, "Why polygamy is more important. This issue (present case) is far more important than polygamy for preserving the secularism of the country."

"I am baffled why this case considers it so trivial, why? It has caused me great anguish. Will you say this case is not so important? The press (media) is here, you should answer this," he asked.

Dhavan cited the order passed by a bench presided over by CJI, stating "keeping in view of the importance of the matter", a batch of PILs challenging constitutional validity of several forms of marriage, including 'Nikah Halala', and polygamy, practised by some sections of Muslims in the country would be referred to the Constitution bench.

The arguments advanced by Dhavan was opposed by Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and senior advocate C S Vaidyanathan.

Justice Ashok Bhushan, sitting in the bench along with Justice S Abdul Nazeer, tried to reason out, "Why do you talk about press, when you are arguing a case."

"That order (of March 26) has got no relevance here," Justice Bhushan said.

The senior advocate, however, remained belligerent. "I want to know. They (the press) want to know. The people of the country want to know, why this issue is not so important. It can't be done in this way," Dhavan said.

Senior advocate K Prasaran, representing the Hindus side, tried to intervene. He said this was like intimidating the court. "What is this argument, answer the question, answer the question! The issue like polygamy and 'Nikah Halala' were not then decided by the five-judge bench that declared triple talaq as illegal, that's why, it was referred to the Constitution bench now," he said. Parasaran also cited the example of NJAC Act case which was not sent to the larger Constitution bench despite a request by the counsel.

The hearing in the case was marked with heated exchanges, when Dhavan called the law officers as hoodlums and they in turn said he was talking nonsense. The court put the matter for further hearing on April 27.

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