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Babri masjid case; High drama at SC as lawyer tears map showing Ram’s birthplace

Ayodhya: Bench sets deadline for day-to-day proceedings at 5pm

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday witnessed high drama during the day-to-day hearing in the politically sensitive Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case when an advocate tore apart a map purportedly marking Lord Ram’s birthplace.

Rajeev Dhavan, who is the counsel for the Muslim litigant, tore apart a map that purportedly showed that the birthplace of Lord Ram would have been located in the centre of the now-demolished Babri Masjid.

Dhavan became furious when Vikas Singh, the counsel for the Hindu Mahasabha, sought to present a book to the five-member Supreme Court bench hearing the arguments. Singh sought to present Ayodhya Revisited, a book written by ex-IPS officer Kishore Kunal, which claimed to have evidence that correlated the location of the ‘Janmasthan’ of Lord Ram at the centre of the Babri Masjid. Singh requested that the Hindu Mahasabha wanted to cross-check the evidence on the location of the birthplace of Lord Ram.

As Singh sought to present the book as evidence, Dhavan raised objections and declared he would tear the document and began doing so.

According to media reports, when Dhavan and Singh continued the heated argument, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi threatened to close the hearing and leave. NDTV reported that Gogoi told Dhavan he could “shred it further”, when he sought permission from the Supreme Court to tear the document.

Gogoi had declared he intended to read the book presented by Singh “after November”. Gogoi is due to retire on November 17 and it is expected a verdict in the Ayodhya dispute would be given before then.

Congress leader and senior lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi criticised Dhavan’s conduct. In a tweet, Singhvi noted, “tearing papers given as evidence in the Supreme Court is not befitting of a lawyer. A lawyer’s job is to put his best case forward and demonstrate presentation skills. This is unacceptable.”

The Supreme Court on Wednesday made it clear that it will conclude the hearing on Wednesday itself saying “enough is enough”.

The 5-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that it is hearing the Ayodhya land dispute case for the last 39 days and no more time will be granted to parties to conclude the hearing in the case.

“This matter is going to be finished today by 5pm. Enough is enough,” the bench, which also comprises justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer, said at the start of the proceedings on the 40th day.

The bench also rejected a plea of a party seeking to intervene in the ongoing hearing and said no such interventions will be allowed now at this stage of proceedings.

Senior advocate C S Vaidyanathan, appearing for a Hindu litigant, has commenced his submission in response to a lawsuit filed by Sunni Waqf board in 1961 seeking title claim over the 2.77 acre disputed land at Ayodhya.

Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

(With inputs from The Week)

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