A special bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra resumed hearing a plea requesting for the Ayodhya land dispute matters to be sent to a five-judge constituiton bench.
CJI Dipak Misra said that the bench would first hear both sides and only then decide on whether the land dispute appeals should be sent to a constitution bench.
The bench is hearing a batch of cross-petitions challenging the 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict that divided the disputed Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi site between the Nirmohi Akhara, the Lord Ram deity (Ram Lalla) and the Sunni Waqf Board.
- The bench said on 14 March that it would first decide whether the land dispute appeals be sent to a five-judge constitution bench
- The SC also made it clear that only the parties to the original lawsuits would be allowed to put forth their arguments
- The hearing in the Ayodhya dispute case is now underway
'Will Decide on Matter After Listening to Both Side': CJI Misra
The Supreme Court's three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said it will decide whether to send Ayodhya land dispute case to a five-judge bench but only after hearing from both sides.
Meanwhile, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, who is representing the case on behalf on the Muslims has been repeatedly pressing the Court to send the matter to a constitution bench, citing the court’s previous judgment with respect to polygamy.
Activists Out of Ayodhya Land Dispute, SC to Hear Original Litigants
The Supreme Court has dashed the hopes of activists like Shyam Benegal and Teesta Setalvad to intervene in the sensitive Babri Masjid-Ram Temple land dispute case, making it clear that only the parties to the original lawsuits would be allowed to put forth their arguments.
"Counsel for appellants, as well as, the respondents in all the appeals have raised objections for such intervention/impleadment/filing additional documents/seeking permission to render assistance. We are of considered opinion that these interlocutory applications do not merit any consideration and they are accordingly rejected." - SC Bench
It accepted the vehement contention of both the parties, Hindu and Muslim organisations and individuals, that only original parties to the dispute be allowed to argue.
Besides Benegal and Setalvad, eminent persons like Aparna Sen and Anil Dharker wanted to intervene for using the disputed 2.77 acre disputed land for some 'secular' purposes.
The intervention plea of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, at whose instance the cases were fast-tracked by the apex court, was also rejected.
The bench, however, considered Swamy's submission that he had not sought to intervene in the matter but filed a separate writ petition seeking enforcement of his fundamental right to worship at the birth place of Lord Ram in Ayodhya.
"I had filed a writ petition saying that I have a fundamental right to worship and this is a superior right than property right. " - Subramanian Swamy
"As we are not inclined to permit the intervention application, the writ petition filed by the applicant (Swamy) shall stand revived and it shall be dealt with by the appropriate Bench in accordance with law," the bench said.
Hearing Adjourned, Case Listed For Next Hearing on Friday 23 March
The hearing has been adjourned for the day. The Ayodhya case has been listed for 23 March next. The Court will first decide whether or not the matter needs to be referred to a larger bench when hearings resume.
Should the Case be Referred to a Larger Bench?
The bench asked Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan to present his detailed arguments on why the Ayodhya case should be referred to a larger bench.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for one of the Muslim parties in the case, had previously argued that the case needed to be referred to a larger bench of 5 or 7 judges, to avoid being bound by a previous decision of the Supreme Court in the Ismail Farooqui case.
In the Ismail Farooqui judgment, the SC had held that mosques are not an essential part of the practice of Islam, and Muslims can pray anywhere.
According to Dhavan, this could have a significant impact on the current case when evaluating the claims of Hindus and Muslims to the site.
'Final Hearings' Begin
The Supreme Court has started the “final hearings” on 13 petitions in the Ayodhya dispute land case on Wednesday.
Next Hearing on 14 March: SC
The Supreme Court fixed 14 March 2018 as the next date of hearing in the Ayodhya dispute, citing incomplete filing of documents by the petitioners, news agency ANI reported. The court also granted this time to parties to file additional documents.
The apex court also asked parties to provide translated copies of excerpts of certain historical books, which have been relied upon by them.
Live Law reported that the court reiterated the parties to treat the matter as a ‘land case.’
Both the parties asked for day-to-day hearing of the case but the SC will make that decision on 14 March, ANI added.
CJI Dipak Misra said, “once the Supreme Court starts hearing the case, it will finish it in one go,” News18 reported.
Highlights of the 5 December Hearing
Senior lawyer and Congress leader Kapil Sibal, who had appeared for UP Sunni Central Waqf Board, had told the three judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that it should not "hear the matter which has repercussions on the polity of the country".
He had urged the court to hold 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, 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, on 5 December asked senior counsel CS Vaidyanathan, appeared for deity, to commence his case.
At that point of time, Sibal, Dhavan and Dave sought the leave of the court to withdraw from the hearing.
Lawyers Walk out of Courtroom During Dec Hearing
On 7 December 2017, the court took a dim view of the conduct of certain senior lawyers describing it as "shameful".
“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.
Reminding the Bar of its traditions, he said: "It is not the tradition of the Bar. If the Bar does not regulate itself, we will."
(Read all about the 5 December hearing here.)
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