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Sunday 19 January 2020

SC to hear Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid case as ‘land dispute’

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today said the politically sensitive Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid case was purely a “land dispute” and will be dealt with in the normal course.

As the apex court commenced its final hearings on the Ayodhya dispute, there were heated exchanges between two senior advocates appearing for different parties after one of them suggested they should exchange the synopsis of their likely arguments.

The court during the course of an hour-long hearing also clarified that it was first inclined to hear those who were parties to the dispute in the Allahabad High Court.

It further said those who have tried to wade into the matter before it and seeking implement as parties will have to wait for the case before it was a “pure land dispute”.

A special bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra was hearing the civil appeals, arising out of 2010 verdict of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court, which is a 2:1 majority ruling, had ordered that the disputed land be partitioned equally among three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara, and Ram Lalla. The bench also comprised Justices Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer.

During the hearing, senior advocate C S Vaidyanathan, representing the deity Ram Lalla Virajman suggested that opposite parties should give a synopsis of their line of arguments to the court and exchange with them.

This argument of Vaidyanathan made senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan appearing for one of the original parties raise his voice and say that respondents (UP government and Hindu bodies) can’t dictate on what propositions he would argue.

“Why should I tell you what will be my arguments. You cannot dictate me. I will argue the way I like. If you want to hear my proposition then I must say Mr. Vaidyanathan you are wrong. You all are wrong. This is my proposition,” Dhavan said.

To this, the bench intervened and said that “The same arguments can be made by them for you Dr. Dhavan”.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for Uttar Pradesh government intervened and said “This kind of hyperbole should be avoided”.

At the fag end of the hearing, the bench said that there was no point for Dhavan to get angry as the court had not asked for the synopsis from anybody.

The court in its order asked the original parties of the title suits to file English translation of the documents exhibited by them in the court.

The bench also expressed its reservation on hearing the matter on a day-to-day basis and said, once the matter will start it will go on in the normal course.

“Over 700 poor litigants (in other cases) are waiting for justice, we have to hear them also. Devoting one-and-half hour every day will help in disposing of these cases,” the bench said.

On being informed by parties that pleadings were almost complete, the bench asked them to file within two weeks the English translations of documents, exhibits, and excerpts from vernacular books, which have been used in the high court.

The top court asked its registry to provide copies of the video cassettes, which were part of high court records, to parties of the case on actual cost.


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