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Supreme Court: In the Ram Janamabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, famously known as the Ayodhya matter, Senior Advocate Raju Ramchandran, appearing for Sunni Waqf Board asked the 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and AK Bhushan and SA Nazeer, JJ to refer the matter to a Constitutional bench. He said that “the issue needs larger consideration keeping in view that it is a national issue.”

Senior Advocate Harish Salve said:

“We are beyond 1992-1993. All that remains is a title dispute over property. It should be decided just like a title suit, and not on other grounds.”

The bench has listed the matter for further hearing on 15.05.2018.

On the last hearing, the Court witnessed a high voltage drama when Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan and Additional Solicitors Generals Maninder Singh and Tushar Mehta engaged in war of words.

Source: ANI

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Supreme Court: When the 3-judge Bench of Dipak Misra, CJI and Ashok Bhushan and S.A. Nazeer, JJ assembled to hear the Ram Janamabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, famously known as the Ayodhya matter, it saw a heated exchange between Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan and Additional Solicitors Generals Maninder Singh and Tushar Mehta.

Below are the excerpts from the heated exchange that took centre stage instead of the arguments in the Ayodhya matter:

  • Maninder Singh asks Rajeev Dhavan to move a bit.
  • Dhavan: Sit down Mr. Maninder Singh, sit down.
  • Singh: Behave yourself Mr. Dhavan.
  • Dhavan: Don’t talk nonsense.
  • Singh: You are talking nonsense.
  • Tushar Mehta (Supporting ASG Maninder Singh): There are people who are arrogant. With due respect to the learned senior counsel, he seems to have undergone a course in it.
  • Dhavan (To the Bench): Why are they sitting next to me and murmuring away and murmuring away?
  • Mehta: Why are you standing near us? There is enough space there.

Rajeev Dhavan then made some comments against former Attorney General and senior advocate K Parasaran, appearing for a Hindu group. He said:

“I am not indulging in theatrics and drama like Mr Parasaran. He suddenly gets up and says things.”

Senior Counsel C S Vaidyanathan and ASG Mehta took offence to the language used by Dhavan. The bench then reminded Dhavan that Parasaran was the former Attorney General of India.

Rajeev Dhavan, who has been pressing for referring the Ayodhya Matter to a Constitution Bench, asked the Bench that why did the Court chose to refer pleas to declare polygamy unconstitutional to a Constitution Bench but was skeptical in referring the Ramjanmabhoomi title appeals to a five-judge Bench, that too, despite repeated requests from the Muslim parties. He said:

“The Ramjanmabhoomi case is the most important issue that affects India’s secularism, more than polygamy.”

To this, Bhushan, J said that the order passed in the polygamy case could not be made a ground to refer the Ramjanmabhoomi appeals to a Constitution Bench. The Bench then told Dhavan that it will hear the arguments from both sides before taking a call on whether the case should be sent to a five-judge Bench. CJI said that the Bench was aware of the high significance and the enormous impact of the question of Muslim rights of worship raised in the Ramjanmabhoomi case and that is why it has decided to hear the matter keenly.

The Court will now hear the matter on 27.04.2018. Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan will continue his arguments on the said date.

Source: The Hindu

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Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer, JJ dismissed all the intervention applications filed in the Ram Janamabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, famously known as the Ayodhya matter, and directed the Registry not to entertain any interlocutory applications for intervention/ impleadment/ for filing any book or additional documents/ for seeking permission to give assistance in these appeals from any third party.

Applications of Shyam Benegal, Aparna Sen and Teesta Setalvad were part of the 32 intervention applications that were rejected by the Court. The Court also rejected the application filed by Subramanian Swamy, however, it ordered the revival of Swamy’s disposed plea that had sought enforcement of his fundamental right to worship at Ram Temple in Ayodhya. He had told the Court:

“my fundamental rights are higher than my property rights.”

Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan appeared before the Court in today’s hearing after his client asked him to reconsider his decision to give up court practice. Rajeev Dhavan had given up court practice after the humiliating end to the Delhi case,  in which, a heated exchange had taken place between him and CJI.

Rajeev Dhavan had submitted before the Court that the matter should be referred to a larger bench in view of the decision rendered by the Constitution Bench in M. Ismail Faruqui (Dr) v. Union of India, (1994) 6 SCC 360. The Court hence said:

“we should hear Dr. Dhawan, learned senior counsel appearing in one of the appeals on behalf of the appellants, whether the judgment in Dr. M. Ismail Faruqui (supra) requires reconsideration.”

The Bench, however, made it clear that clear that it’s addressing the said issue shall singularly relate to whether the Bench should think of that the dictum in Dr. M. Ismail Faruqui (supra) requires reconsideration and in that event, it may pass appropriate orders for placing the matter before a five-Judge Bench for consideration of the said judgment.

On 05.12.2017, the Court had refused to defer the matter till 2019 and had asked all the counsels to work in harmony in order to achieve speedy disposal of the matter. On the same day, the Courtroom witnessed another exchange between Rajeev Dhavan and CJI when Rajeev Dhavan told the Court that he would require four months to read prepare and argue the matter. On this, the Court said:

“Dr. Dhavan, learned senior counsel almost thought of writing a Shavian preface, which can more than be main drama or a play, by stating that he would require four months to read, prepare and argue. We have noted this, as the said submission was advanced with medieval passion and sans reason.”

The Court will now hear the matter on March 23. [M. Siddiq v. Mahant Suresh Das, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 222, order dated 14.03.2018]

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Supreme Court: Fixing the next hearing on 08.02.2018, the 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer, JJ asked all the Advocates-on Record appearing for all the parties to work in harmony and see to it that the documents are filed within a time-frame, if not already filed. The Court said that, on the next date, the advocates should come prepared to argue the matter and shall not seek any adjournment and if the Registry finds that the matter is incomplete for some reason or the other, it shall place the matter before the learned Chief Justice of India on the administrative side for fixing a date for completion of the record.

The said order came after Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Sunni Waqf Board, told the Court that the pleadings were not complete as all the exhibits were not filled before the court. However, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta, representing the State of Uttar Pradesh, rebutted Kapil Sibal’s claim and told the Court that all the related documents and requisite translation copies were on record.

The Court also expressed shock over certain arguments advanced by Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal and Dushyant Dave. During the course of hearing, the counsels had submitted before the Court that the matter should be heard at present as it was not an ordinary appeal arising out of ordinary suit and that the matter should be listed some time in 2019.

Regarding the submission made by Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan that he would require four months to read prepare and argue, the Court said:

“Dr. Dhavan, learned senior counsel almost thought of writing a Shavian preface, which can more than be main drama or a play, by stating that he would require four months to read, prepare and argue. We have noted this, as the said submission was advanced with medieval passion and sans reason.”

The Court refused to accept the abovementioned submissions.

Rajeev Dhavan had also sought for referring the matter to a larger bench in view of the decision rendered by the Constitution Bench in M. Ismail Faruqui (Dr) v. Union of India, (1994) 6 SCC 360. However, Senior Advocates K. Parasran and Harish Salve submitted before the Court that:

“the issue whether the matter should be referred to a larger Bench or not, cannot be adjudged at this juncture, because the judgment by the Constitution Bench is binding on this Court and further if an occasion arises and if the context so requires, the matter may be considered at that stage, but that should not stall the process of hearing of this matter.”

Refusing to stall the hearing in the matter, the Court listed the matter on 08.02.2018. [M.Siddiq (D) v. Mahant Suresh Das,  2017 SCC OnLine SC 1416, order dated 05.12.2017]

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Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer, JJ allowed 3-months time for the translation of the historic documents after the Sunni Waqf Board said that the translation was incomplete as all the original historic documents were in Sanskrit, Parsi, Urdu, Arabic and other languages. Granting 3 months’ time for the translation of the documents crucial to the settlement of the Ram janmbhoomi and Babri Masjid dispute, the Court listed the matter to be taken up for hearing on 05.12.2017.

Earlier, on 08.08.2017, the Shia Waqf Board had filed an affidavit before the supreme Court in which it had said that it was fine if the Masjid was located in a Muslim dominated area at a reasonable distance from Lord Ram’s birth place i.e. Ram Janmabhoomi and that since the Babri Masjid was a Shia Waqf, the Shia Waqf Baord alone is entitled to negotiate and arrive at a peaceful settlement with the stakeholders.

Source: ANI

 

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On 08.08.2017, the Shia Waqf Board filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court in the Ayodhya matter and said that it was fine if the Masjid was located in a Muslim dominated area at a reasonable distance from Lord Ram’s birth place i.e. Ram Janmabhoomi. In the affidavit, the Board has mentioned that since the Babri Masjid was a Shia Waqf, the Shia Waqf Baord alone is entitled to negotiate and arrive at a peaceful settlement with the stakeholders.

The Babri Masjid was built in the 16th century and was demolished in the year 1992 for allegedly being built over the Ram Janmabhoomi. The demolition resulted into nation-wide communal riots between Hindu and Muslim community that killed around 900 people. Since then, there has been an ongoing dispute over the rights of the Hindu and Muslim community to build a temple or a masjid, respectively.

Source: ANI

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Supreme Court: Giving out a major verdict, the Bench of P.C. Ghose and R.F. Nariman, JJ ruled that L.K. Advani, Vinay Katiar, Uma Bharati, Sadhvi Ritambara, Murli Manohar Joshi and Vishnu Hari Dalmia are to be tried for conspiracy in the Babri Masjid demolition which resulted into nation-wide riots between Hindu and Muslim community. The Court, however, said that Kalyan Singh, being the Governor of Rajasthan, is entitled to immunity under Article 361 of the Constitution as long as he remains Governor of Rajasthan. The Court of Sessions will frame charges and move against him as soon as he ceases to be Governor.

Stating that the cases against the leaders and the Kar Sewaks to be tried together by the Sessions Court at Lucknow, the Court asked the Sessions Court to frame additional charges under Section 120-B and the other provisions of the Penal Code mentioned in the joint charge-sheet filed by the CBI against Champat Rai Bansal, Satish Pradhan, Dharam Das, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, Mahamadleshwar Jagdish Muni, Ram Bilas Vadanti, Vaikunth Lal Sharma, and Dr. Satish Chandra Nagar.

Directing the Sessions Court to have daily hearings, the Court directed that the controversy should be given rest to within 2 years. It was further directed that there shall be no de novo trial, however, no prejudice will be caused to the accused as they have the right to recall witnesses already examined either in Rae Bareilly or in Lucknow for the purpose of cross-examination. Also, there shall be no transfer of the Judge conducting the trial until the entire trial concludes. The case shall not be adjourned on any ground except when the Sessions Court finds it impossible to carry on the trial for that particular date. In such an event, on grant of adjournment to the next day or a closely proximate date, reasons for the same shall be recorded in writing.

The demolition of the mosque was an outcome of the speech made by the BJP leaders at Ayodhya alleging that the Mosque was built upon the Ram Janmbhoomi i.e. the birthplace of Lord Ram. The Allahabad High Court, by order dated 22.05.2010, had dropped the charges of conspiracy against the aforementioned Senior leaders stating criminal conspiracy had never been made out against the said persons. The High Court also said that there were two classes of accused, namely, leaders who were on the dais exhorting the Kar Sewaks at 200 meters from the Masjid, and the Kar Sewaks themselves. The nature of the accusations against both was different and their involvement was for different criminal offences.

Considering the seriousness of the matter, the Court said that crimes which shake the secular fabric of the Constitution of India have allegedly been committed almost 25 years ago and the accused persons have not been brought to book largely because of the conduct of the CBI in not pursuing the prosecution of the aforesaid alleged offenders in a joint trial, and because of technical defects which were easily curable, but which were not cured by the State Government. The Court noticed that the filing of the supplementary charge sheet against 8 accused persons which is going on separately at Rae Bareilly and the dropping altogether of charges against the 13 accused persons has completely derailed the joint trial envisaged and has resulted in a fractured prosecution going on in two places simultaneously based on a joint charge-sheet filed by the CBI itself. [State v. Kalyan Singh, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 444, decided on 19.04.2017]