The Sunni Waqf Board has asked the Supreme Court to defer hearing in the Ayodhya dispute till the 2019 Lok Sabha polls conclude. A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Tuesday began the final hearing in the matter a day before the 25th anniversary of Babri Masjid demolition.
The Supreme Court, however, has posted the matter for next hearing on February 8, 2018.
A specially constituted bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and Abdul Nazeer is hearing a total of 13 appeals filed against the 2010 judgement of the Allahabad High Court in four civil suits.
During the hearing, senior lawyer Kapil Sibal who appeared for the Sunni Waqf Board told the Supreme Court that whenever this matter is heard, there are serious repercussions outside court and to preserve the decorum of law and order, the lawyer personally requested the court to take this matter up on July 15, 2019, once all the pleadings are complete.
The petitioners also urged the court for reasonable time to translate, file and serve the copies of all the exhibits and relevant documents, which were filed before the Allahabad High Court bench at Lucknow.
Sibal confronted the government's contention that all relevant documents had been presented and that there was no reason for the matter to be delayed. Sibal said that there were over 90,000 relevant documents that had to be translated and over 700 documents pertaining to the judgment that were yet to be presented. "All this is yet to be done," Sibal said.
Advocates Sibal, Rajiv Dhawan along with other petitioner counsels also sought a larger bench of at least seven judges to hear this matter.
Addressing the media after the day’s hearing in the apex court, Wasim Rizvi, Shia Waqf Board Chairman said that he was satisfied that the court had taken the formula proposed by them on record. The Shia Central Waqf Board came up with a new solution to the ongoing Ayodhya and proposed a Ram Temple in Ayodhya and a mosque in Lucknow.
“Good news is that the Supreme Court has taken the formula proposed by us on record,” he said.
Meanwhile, speaking exclusively to India TV, BJP parliamentarian Subramanian Swamy today said that every option under the ambit of law and Constitution will be applied to ensure the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya. He said that there was no question of division of the disputed land for construction of a mosque and that the proposal is not acceptable.
"Division of land for construction of mosque not acceptable. Sunni Waqf Board is on a loose ground in the matter,” Subramanian Swamy told India TV on Babri Masjid-Ram Mandir dispute.
The case came into the limelight after Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said that he was involved as a mediator in the Ram Temple dispute of his own will. Meanwhile, the Shia Central Waqf Board came up with a new solution to the ongoing Ayodhya dispute - Ram Temple in Ayodhya and Mosque in Lucknow. "After discussions with different parties we have prepared a proposal in which a Ram Temple will be built in Ayodhya and a Mosque can be built in Lucknow," said Syed Waseem Rizvi, Chairman of the Shia Waqf Board had said.
Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute: A look at the entire controversy
A sect of Muslims, under the banner of Shia Central Waqf Board of Uttar Pradesh, had earlier approached the court offering a solution that a mosque could be built in a Muslim-dominated area at a "reasonable distance" from the disputed site in Ayodhya.
The high court had earlier ruled a three-way division of the disputed 2.77 acre area at Ayodhya among the parties -- the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and the Lord Ram Lalla.
However, its intervention was opposed by the All India Sunni Waqf Board which had claimed that judicial adjudication between the two sects had already been done in 1946 by declaring the mosque, which was demolished on December 6, 1992, as one which belongs to the Sunnis.
Recently a group of civil rights activists also moved the apex court seeking intervention in the Ayodhya dispute and urged it to consider the issue saying it is not just a dispute over property but has several other aspects which would have far-reaching effects on the "secular fabric of the country".
In pursuance to the apex court's earlier direction, the Yogi Adityanath government has submitted English translation of exhibits and documents likely to be relied upon, as these were in eight different languages.
A battery of high profile lawyers including senior advocates K Parasaran and C S Vaidyanathan and advocate Saurabh Shamsheri will appear for Lord Ram Lalla, the deity, and Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta will represent the Uttar Pradesh government.
Senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Anoop George Chaudhari, Rajeev Dhavan and Sushil Jain will represent other parties including All India Sunni Waqf Board and Nirmohi Akhara.
The top court had on August 11 asked the Uttar Pradesh government to complete within 10 weeks the translation of the evidence recorded for adjudication of the title dispute in the high court. It had said it would not allow the matter to take any shape other than the civil appeals and would adopt the same procedure as was done by the high court.
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, an intervenor in the matter, had attempted to raise the issue of fundamental right of religion of the Hindus under Article 25 of the Constitution.
Many of the original plantiffs and defendants in the matter including Mohd Hashim, who was the first person to take the matter to the apex court, have died.
A three-judge bench of the Allahabad High Court, in a 2:1 majority ruling, had said the land be partitioned equally among three parties -- the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.