Speaking exclusively to Republic TV's Legal Editor Rhythm Anand Bhardwaj on Tuesday after his sacking from the Ayodhya review case, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan described the sequence of events leading up to this sudden development. He clearly refuted that there was any technical problem involved. Moreover, Dhavan rubbished the notion that he was unwell, even as the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) expressed their desire to retain him.
Dhavan remarked, “For the last 10 days, I have been working on the review with Mr. Maqbool and his team. We had three meetings- in fact, the structure of what has been filed was in fact prepared by me and shared with the other Muslim parties. I left all of Sunday free to tweak the particular draft. I typed it myself over a period of 8 hours. I went to my dentist for a routine check-up. At 10.14, Mr. Maqbool called my clerk and said- give the phone to Mr. Dhavan. I told him what’s the matter. He said that I don’t want you to be associated with this case and review. I said- could we call it a sacking? He said yes. But I have no say in this matter. He said that I can’t do anything. I came back. I sent a letter to him saying that you have sacked me and we have had meetings together. And as a professional, I have no choice but to accept this without demur. The case and the cause is bigger than all of us. So when Mr. Maqbool says that it was because of some technical problem, in fact, there was no technical problem."
Dhavan went on to add, "The case could have been filed on Saturday and I worked towards the case being filed on the very date Mr. Maqbool filed it. His juniors came to me, they saw my alternative draft, we worked on it only for the record as the case had already been filed. Unfortunately, if Mr. Maqbool says that he didn’t sack me, why didn’t he reply to my letter? And it is not just the untruth, but absolute total lies."
"The other lie, in this case, is that I was not well," contended Dhavan, adding, "How could I not been well if I worked 10 days on this brief? I had scheduled a meeting. I worked on it- all day Sunday for the final draft. Why was I not well? I could argue the Karnataka case after Babri, several other cases including cases on reservation. Why was I not well? I am perfectly well. I have always been perfectly well. There are some problems of teeth pain, but then who doesn’t have it?”
The senior advocate also spoke about the friction within the Muslim parties. He recalled how different Muslim parties wanted him to argue their matter. He cited the example of how Mr.Shamshad allegedly instructed his juniors not to attend his meeting.
He said, “This has happened before. Mr. Maqbool put pressure on me earlier because he said that I should appear for Jamiat because they want me to appear for them. Other parties said that I need to appear for them and not the Jamiat. I told Mr. Maqbool that I will not enter into this controversy. It is simply a problem that they must sort out. I will accept the Jamiat brief because I have been arguing it for a number of days and it was the lead brief in the matter. It was as simple as that. During this period, there was some friction between the Muslim parties which was inevitable. There was also friction among the Hindu parties. That’s why we kept the team together. And one part of my responsibility was to keep the team together.”
Dhavan added, “Someone wanted to come here from Mr. Shamshad’s chamber to get involved in the discussions here in this very room. Mr. Shamshad instructed his juniors not to attend these meetings. I said it doesn’t matter. We will go ahead. That’s what happened. But to say, that I wasn’t sacked and to say that I am ill is an absurdity. And the third absurdity is to say that the time would have been breached because I was working towards filing on Monday, the last date is Saturday.”
Maintaining that the stance of the Shia Waqf Board was “disgraceful”, Dhavan contended that they filed a Special Leave Petition 70 years later. According to him, the Shia Waqf Board was playing “its own game”. Moreover, he highlighted how the mediation process which took place towards the end was not valid as per the Supreme Court order.
“The stance of the Shia Waqf Board was nothing short of disgraceful. There was a case that was decided against them in 1946. Last year, they filed an SLP several years later saying that this was actually theirs. I pointed it out in court, in fact, I called one of their counsels Traitoruddin. The reason was that the Shia Waqf Board said that we give this site. Can you give what you don’t have? Can you file a case after 70 days? So, the Shia Waqf Board is playing its own game. And frankly, I didn’t want to get into that either. My task was to win for the Muslims. And it is well settled from 1528 onwards, it was a Sunni Waqf. For the Shias to derail this is disgraceful,” Dhavan opined.
On mediation, the senior advocate stated, “In August, before the 40-day hearing started, the position was that mediation had come to an end. Suddenly, the Sunni Waqf Board towards the end said that we want to mediate. The order of the court was that they can mediate with the mediators by any other method. In other words, in my view, the mediation committee had become functus officio. This in law means that they had no more function to perform. On the penultimate day, Mr. Sriram Panchu wrote a letter assuming that it was done on behalf of all three and said he needs protection for the Chairman of the Sunni Waqf Board which was granted. Now the question is that why did the Chairman of the Sunni Waqf Board need protection? Not from the Muslims, I am given to understand that pressure was put by Chief Minister Adityanath on the Sunni Waqf Board Chairman and so he turned around completely. The so-called mediation can hardly be called that."
"The Shias were there, the Sunni Waqf Board Chairman was there. Someone was there from the Hindu Mahasabha and two nondescript people. Can you imagine this to be a mediation? On the last day, Mr.Panchu sent another report. I am assuming that it was on behalf of the committee. And the mediation proposal, I am given to understand is that the Sunnis were willing to give the land. We don’t know what happened. I wrote about this interference. I consider it interference. They had become functus officio in the real sense.”