- PM had blamed the Congress for delay in resolution of the Ayodhya case
- PM Modi said Congress bullied judges with impeachment threats
- PM should not give such statements, Kapil Sibal said
Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal today called out Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying his comments on Ayodhya were "shameful" and "defamatory" towards the Supreme Court, where the title suit in the case is pending.
"This is defamatory towards the Supreme Court," said Mr Sibal, a senior advocate who appeared before the top court during hearings on the Ayodhya case. Last year, Mr Sibal represented an individual, Mohammad Hashim, who filed a petition requesting that the case be deferred till after the 2019 national elections.
Amid huge pressure from right-wing groups and a section of allies to bypass the legal process and fast-track construction at the disputed site, the Prime Minister had blamed the Congress for the delay in resolution of the case.
Speaking at a rally in Rajasthan's Alwar yesterday, he said: "The Congress creates an atmosphere of fear for the judiciary. They tell the Supreme Court to delay the Ayodhya hearing due to the 2019 elections. They do everything possible to impeach the Chief Justice."
Later, a tweet from him underscored the point. "New tricks of the Congress: Send lawyers to the Rajya Sabha. Obstruct key legislation. Armtwist the courts. And, if a Judge does not give verdicts they like then bully them with impeachment threats. Congress' black deeds will not succeed till I am here," the tweet read.
"You (the Prime Minister) are defaming the Supreme Court. Are you trying to say that the Supreme Court can come under any political pressure? This is shameful. The Prime Minister should not give such statements," Mr Sibal told NDTV.
"Who is doing the scaring? What's the VHP (right-wing Vishwa Hindu Parishad) doing in Ayodhya? They are creating an atmosphere of fear that's providing political benefits to the PM," he added, referring to the huge VHP meeting in Ayodhya yesterday that had unnerved the city's Muslim residents.
PM Modi, Mr Sibal added, was unaware of the facts. The Congress, he said, is not a part of the litigation and he had stopped appearing in court in the Ayodhya case since January 2018.
Mr Sibal had asked the Prime Minister for a fact-check on an earlier occasion as well -- in December last year, when PM Modi had remarked that he was representing the Sunni Waqf Board.
At an election meeting in Gujarat, PM Modi had censured the Congress over Mr Sibal's petition in the Supreme Court, saying while the senior lawyer has every right to defend the Babri masjid in court, it was not proper to "link Ram mandir with the Lok Sabha elections".
"Our PM comments without knowing things sometimes," Mr Sibal had said, adding that he was representing an individual in the Ayodhya case. He also said, "The Ram temple will be built when God wants it built, not when Modiji wants it. The matter is in court."
On Monday he said the Prime Minister is "nervous ". "He did not remember Ram Lalla in 2014, 2015, 2016 or 2017. Now in 2018, because of the elections he has remembered Ram Lalla".