Giving a new twist to the Ram Janmabhoomi dispute, the Sunni Waqf Board on Tuesday urged the Supreme Court to defer hearing in the Ayodhya title suit till July 2019 when the next Lok Sabha elections will be over, but the top court brushed aside the plea and fixed February 8, 2018 for commencing final hearing in the case.
As the bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer began hearing the matter on Tuesday, senior counsel Kapil Sibal, Rajiv Dhavan and Dushyant Dave urged the court not to go ahead with the hearing which would have repercussions for the country’s polity.
“The court should not hear the matter which has repercussions on the polity of the country,” Sibal, who appeared for the Waqf Board, urged the court to have the hearing in July 2019, suggesting that it would have a bearing on 2019 general elections.
Senior counsel Harish Salve countered Sibal. He told the bench that whatever the repercussion outside the court was not the court’s lookout. As far as the court was concerned, it was “just a case” like any other case before it, he stressed.
Urging the bench to commence hearings in December itself, Salve took exception that “it is being presumed which way the verdict will go… You have it (hearing) in December”.
Salve appeared for one of the petitioners seeking an early hearing on the petitions challenging the 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict, which was stayed by the top court on May 9, 2011, which had described the High Court verdict that had divided the disputed Babri Masjid site between the Nirmohi Akhara, Lord Ram deity and the Sunni Waqf Board as “strange and surprising”.
Referring to a statement by a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader that the matter would be listed and decided in three months, Sibal said that “justice should not only be done but also appear to have been done”.