SC gives all parties 3 mths to prepare
The Supreme Court on Friday set a timeframe of three months for the Hindu and Muslim factions to the historic title suit case over the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid disputed site and decided to begin hearing arguments on December 5, which happens to be the eve of the anniversary of Babri Masjid demolition.
Objecting to such a short time being provided to prepare the case, the Sunni Central Waqf Board and parties representing the Muslim community, demanded at least four months time for translation of documents which are in Hindi, Sanskrit and sought time till January 2018 to prepare the case. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal was joined by senior advocates Rajeev Dhavan and Anoop G Chaudhary appearing in different appeals by Sunni Waqf and supporting parties in opposing the hurry shown by the Court. Sibal went to the extent to suggest, “The other side is desperate to move forward.”
Equally strong was the opposition by the Hindu groups represented by senior advocate CS Vaidyanathan and Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta appearing for UP Government who wondered why the other side was delaying hearing of the matter which is pending appeal before the apex court for past seven years. The September 30, 2010 verdict of the Allahabad High Court apportioned the disputed land into three parts- one part each to Lord Ram (Ram Lalla), Sunni Central Waqf Board, and Nirmohi Akhara. Vaidyanathan said he was willing to translate all necessary documents and prepare arguments within four weeks.
Striking a balance, the bench of Justices Dipak Misra, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer decided to grant 12 weeks to both sides for completing all translation work and fulfill all formalities needed to serve the parties, substitute those who are dead, and delete those unnecessary to the case.
When the bench proposed November 14 as the date of hearing, there was uproar from the side representing the Sunni Waqf that unanimously shot it down. Translating 533 exhibits and reading the Allahabd High Court judgment running into 9000 pages (with annexure) was a huge task, claimed Sibal, Dhavan and Chaudhary. The bench proposed November 28 and settled at December 5. saying, “Let us make a start in December, we can continue in January. On the question of translating oral evidence from Hindi to English, the task was handed to ASG Mehta and Advocate General of UP Raghvendra Singh to be completed within 10 weeks.
The presence of BJP senior leader and MP Subramanian Swamy proved a major irritant with the Muslim side who vehemently opposed the Court from hearing him since his petition related to fundamental right to worship at the makeshift temple at the disputed site. Moreover, they carried a grudge that the matter was listed behind their back after Swamy mentioned the matter before CJI without notice to them. The bench cleared the air, “Once it has been listed before us on orders of CJI, let us not object to how it has come for hearing.” Court told Swamy that his turn will come only after the parties to the main suit have been heard.
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