The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday saw sharp exchanges between the lawyers representing Hindu and Muslim parties during the proceedings in the politically sensitive Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case. A 5-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was hearing arguments of former Attorney General and senior advocate K Parasaran, appearing for a Hindu party. He was responding to the lawsuit filed by the Sunni Wakf Board and others in 1961 to seek claim over the disputed site at Ayodhya.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, who represents Muslim parties, got up and intervened when Parasaran was submitting that, a "historical wrong" was committed by Mughal emperor Babur after his conquest of India more than 433 years ago by constructing a mosque at the birthplace of Lord Ram and it needed to be corrected. "This is entirely a new argument. All this could have been argued by them in other lawsuits as well. I am entitled to give reply in rejoinder arguments," Dhavan told the bench, also comprising justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer. Parasaran, along with another senior advocate C S Vaidyanathan, objected that there were a lot of interruptions from the other side and the court should set the things right as this is the case of public right.
The bench then said it will allow Dhavan to make rejoinder submissions. Later in the day, Vaidyanathan, who started arguing on behalf of one Mahant Suresh Das, took strong note of some murmuring of lawyers from the other side and said: "I cannot continue with the running commentary going on here". The senior lawyer was saying, "Muslims have argued that they have perfected the title by "long and exclusive use" of the disputed property. That would be a definite admission that Hindus or the temple or the deity was the previous owner if Muslims claim benefit of adverse possession doctrine," he said.
As Vaidyanathan said that he cannot argue, Dhavan, in high pitch tone, said, "What is all this. How can he say that I am doing the running commentary". "Stop this," shouted Dhavan and this led to a sharp reaction from Vaidyanathan as well. "How can he (Dhavan) say this (stop it) to me," Viadyanthan retorted and urged the court to take note of all this. The CJI tried to calm the tempers and said, "these are disruptions...you (Vaidyanathan) see, how agitated you are looking".
Vaidyanathan then proceeded with his submissions and alleged that the Muslim side can take benefit of adverse possession only if they admit that the deity was the previous and lawful owner of the property. "They have not proved that there was a grant from Babur. If it was the case of dedication as wakf on the ground of long user, then how can there be a concept of joint possession as laid down in the verdict of one of the judges of the Allahabad High Court," he said.
Dhavan again got up and said that he was forced to interrupt as the lawyer for the other side was not giving the complete picture. "You do not have to point out the obvious to the judges," the bench told Dhavan. The bench, which heard the matter on 39th day, said, "Tomorrow will be the 40th day and we want to conclude it". The top court then granted 45 minutes time tomorrow to Vaidyanathan to wrap his arguments and said that other lawyers for the Hindu parties can manage the time among themselves. The court had fixed October 17 as the deadline to wrap up the hearing in the case.