The Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Abdul Nazeer and Justice Ashok Bhushan on Thursdays scheduled the hearing in the string of appeals arising out of the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute for March 14.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta submitted before the bench on Thursday that 504 exhibits, including books such as the Ram Charit Manas and the Bhagwat Gita, the excerpts therefrom and their translations have been filed. In addition, all 87 depositions along with the translations have been filed. The reports of the Archaeological Survey of India, the text as well as the photographs, have been brought on record. The pleadings, including the plaints, written statements and additional written statements and replications have been completed. Finally, a list of volumes has been filed by the parties.
Advocate Ejaz Maqbool, appearing for the appellants, submitted that in respect of Suit no. 1, all documents have been filed; for Suit no. 3, the translations of the extracts of books relied upon ,which are in vernacular languages, have not been filed; so far as Suit no. 4 is concerned, entire books have been exhibited before the Supreme Court; and in respect of Suit no. 5, none of the 10 books relied upon, even the ones in English, have been filed, and the 2 videos have not been made available by the Registry on account of there being no clarification as to how the same shall be chargeable.
“Please require the parties to file only the first page and the translation of the relevant extracts of the books”, prayed the counsel.
“The extracts we have relied upon have been quoted in judgements we shall be referring to”, responded the ASG.
The bench on Thursday passed an order to this effect. The bench directed the Registry to make available the copies of the videos to the advocates of the parties to the appeal at cost per copy. The bench also allowed the Interlocutory Applications of the parties to the appeals for exemption, filing of documents exhibited before the Allahabad High Court, substitution and condonation of delay. On the request of Senior Counsel Rajiv Dhawan, the apex court also ordered the volumes to be filed in seriatim.
During the course of the discussion, Chief Justice Misra remarked, “I am surprised that the fundamental first principle is being argued here. Once a document has been exhibited, either side may refer to it”.
Mr. Dhawan also prayed that the matter be heard on a day to day basis- “Bearing in mind what has been observed in the Ismail Farooqui judgment [(1994) 6 SCC 360], this matter is assumes importance not just for the country but globally”.
“There are 700 cases pending where citizens are crying for justice”, responded Chief Justice Misra, clarifying that he is not commenting on the significance of the present matter.
When a Senior Advocate for one of the respondents suggested that the parties should make a synopsis of their line of arguments and give it to the other side Mr. Dhawan exclaimed,
“There at least 12 issues in this matter each of which has a large number of propositions. Let me give you a proposition- You are wrong! I will argue the case how I deem fit”, adding, “Either the court has faith in the senior members of the bar or it does not”.
The hearing concluded on a humorous note with the Chief Justice remarking, “We did not ask for any propositions. Propositions lead to presumptions, which lead to assumptions, which in turn perpetrate untruth, succeeded by folly, which is followed by danger, resulting in guilt that kills a man”.