Gujarat polls 2017: Ayodhya-Babri Masjid-Ram Mandir issue had not only created a storm in the Supreme Court but also became a heated subject in Gujarat assembly polls campaign. A war of words erupted between Congress and BJP over the issue as the apex court began its final hearing on the long-standing dispute. BJP Chief Amit Shah launched a scathing attack on Congress asking it to clear its stand. Shah also pitched for an expeditious decision in the matter. Congress has accused the ruling BJP of raking up the Ayodhya issue to escape from the “failed” development promises. Congress also said the order of the apex court in this regard should be acceptable to all. “The BJP is running away from the main issues and in order to escape from failed development promises, Amit Shah is raking up the Ram Mandir issue,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala had alleged.
Flaying Kapil Sibal’s stand on the Ayodhya issue, Shah said, “And now, to put hurdles in the way of Ram Mandir, Kapil Sibal has come forward as the lawyer of Sunni Wakf Board. I demand the Congress makes its stand clear…” Surjewala countered Shah’s view, saying, “When 4,000 people were killed in Bhopal gas leak, BJP leader and advocate Arun Jaitley represented the American multinational company. Why did no one from the BJP object to it at that time? The Congress party is not at all responsible about its members appearing as legal counsels in a case in his/her personal capacity.”
Amid high drama, the Supreme Court yesterday refused to defer until after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls the final hearing in the Ayodhya title dispute on a plea by the Sunni Waqf Board and others over which it expressed shock and surprise and posted the case for February 8 next.
The order by a special bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra during the hearing on appeals against the Allahabad High Court verdict comes on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the demolition of Babri Masjid at the disputed site in Ayodhya.
A three-judge bench of the Allahabad High Court, in a 2:1 majority ruling, had in 2010 ordered that the land in the sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute be partitioned equally among three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
The apex court bench also “prima facie” declined the forceful plea by a battery of senior lawyers including Kapil Sibal and Rajeev Dhavan that the appeals be either referred to a five or seven judge bench, keeping in mind the sensitive nature of the case and its ramifications on the country’s secular fabric and polity.
The bench, also comprising Justices Ashok Bhusan and S A Nazeer, asked the advocates on records (AoRs), to sit together and ensure that all requisite documents are translated, filed and numbered before the apex court Registry.
In case of any problem, they were directed to consult the Registry, it said, while fixing February 8 to hear the appeals. The special apex court bench is hearing a total of 14 appeals filed against the high court judgement in four civil suits.