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". Books including Bhagavad Gita and Ramayana were submitted in the apex court on Thursday, along with 87 witness depositions.
But due to the incomplete documentation process, the Supreme Court fixed 14 March as the next date of hearing, according to ANI.
Speaking to reporters, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy quoted Misra as saying that the court would "certainly go on the principle of day-to-day hearing" after the next hearing.
Times Now reported that the top court has given two weeks' notice for submission of documents in the matter.
Meanwhile, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who has offered to mediate in the row, met Muslim clerics in Bengaluru.
#Karnataka: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar met Muslim clerics, including Maulana Syed Salman Husain Nadvi & Zufar Faruqui, in Bengaluru on Ayodhya issue. pic.twitter.com/ik7Pl09yaf " ANI (@ANI) February 8, 2018
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 IANS View More