High drama unfolded in the Supreme Court of India just as the final hearing on the Ayodhya Title Dispute began today. Rajeev Dhavan, who is appearing for Muslim party - the Waqf Board, was handed over a map by the Hindu Mahasabha counsel. The paper apparently was a map illustrating the birthplace of Lord Ram. The matter escalated when senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan tore the map into pieces, evoking a strong reaction from Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.
Here's how it all began.
Senior Counsel Vikas Singh, representing Hindu Mahasabha, said in the Supreme Court that he wishes to present a book "Ayodhya revisited" by Kunal Kishore. Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan from the Sunni Waqf Board, took objection to placing on record contents from the book. Dhavan then tore the pages and maps handed over to him. "You can shred it further," CJI told Dhavan.
CJI Gogoi took exception to loud arguments by Rajeev Dhavan, saying the judges will get up and leave if proceedings go on like this. "These shouting matches are wasting time."
Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has made a strong pitch to conclude the hearing by 5 PM today. "This matter is going to be finished today by 5 PM. Enough is enough," the bench, which also comprises justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer, said at the start of the proceedings on the 40th day.
Hindu Mahasabha likely to file contempt application against Rajeev Dhavan
Taking a strong objection to Rajeev Dhavan's tearing the documents in Supreme Court, the Hindu Mahasabha has indicated that they were outraged by such acts and would file contempt of court application against the Waqf Board counsel.
"Right now we are concentrating on the merits of the Ayodhya case as that is the larger issue," a lawyer representing Hindu Mahasabha told a news channel.
Who is Rajeev Dhavan:
Rajeev Dhavan is the lead counsel for Muslims in the Ayodhya title dispute case. He is representing the Sunni Central Wakf Board which has got one-third of the disputed land under a 2010 Allahabad High Court ruling.
Rajeev Dhavan is a senior advocate of the Supreme Court and a human right activist. Born in 1946, Dhawan is a respected name in Indian legal circle. Rajeev Dhavan studied law at Allahabad University, then at the University of Cambridge and London University.
(The story has been updated with Hindu Mahasabha's response to Rajeev Dhavan's map tearing.)