5 Judges To Rule On Polygamy, Why Only 3 For Ayodhya, Supreme Court Asked

Rajiv Dhavan has been trying to persuade the three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra to constitute a larger bench that would hold day-to-day hearings

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5 Judges To Rule On Polygamy, Why Only 3 For Ayodhya, Supreme Court Asked

The Supreme Court was today asked to refer the Ayodhya case to a larger bench of judges


NEW DELHI: 

Highlights

  1. "Is polygamy case more important that Ayodhya case?" Lawyer asks
  2. Polygamy case referred to Constitution Bench of Supreme Court
  3. Ayodhya case not being dealt with the importance it deserves, lawyer says
A bench of five judges set up to decide if polygamy among Muslims is constitutionally valid was cited as a ground in the Supreme Court on Friday to argue that the Ayodhya land dispute to a larger bench. "Is the polygamy case more important than Ayodhya case? When polygamy can be referred to a Constitution bench, why not Ayodhya land dispute?" senior lawyer Rajiv Dhavan told the Supreme Court.

Mr Dhavan has been trying to persuade the three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra to constitute a larger bench that would hold day-to-day hearings to decide the ownership of the 2.7 acre land in Ayodhya - a conflict that has dogged India's polity for decades.

A 1994 verdict had ruled that a mosque was not an essential part of the practice of Islam and prayers can be offered anywhere to decide. Mr Dhavan and other lawyers representing the Muslim parties in the Ayodhya case are arguing that this ruling should be revisited by a larger bench of five judges.

Chief Justice Misra told him that the court would have to hear all the parties before it can decide whether a larger bench should be set up.

"People in India want to know if polygamy important than Ayodhya. The Supreme Court must answer now... Ayodhya case not being dealt with the importance it deserves," Mr Dhavan, who is appearing for one of the Muslim petitioners in the title case, said.

Lawyers representing the Hindu petitioners opposed Mr Dhavan arguments, stressing that the senior lawyer appeared to be attempting to intimidate the court and he shouldn't be allowed to argue like this.

Senior lawyer K Parasaran, who was the centre's top law officer back in the eighties, said it was not proper to compare `polygamy' case with Ayodhya dispute.

Last year when triple talaq case was decided by the Constitution bench, this issue was left open and it is for this reason only that polygamy was referred to five judges. "But here we are dealing with a case, which is already decided, and he is seeking reconsideration," Mr Parasaran said.

Mr Parasaran and his colleague CS Vaidyanathan strongly opposed the words used by Mr. Dhavan insinuating senior lawyers present in the court and Mr. Soli Sorabjee, who is not present.

Additional Solicitors General Maninder Singh and Tushar Mehta also objected to Mr. Dhavan's disparaging remarks against senior lawyers and urged the court not to allow the counsel to do so.

"What sort of an argument is this?  Nation wants to know and Supreme Court must answer? You (Mr. Dhavan) are not alone who is representing the nation. We (petitioners representing Hindus) are also representing the nation," Mr Parasaran said.

When Mr. Dhavan said he cannot argue the same issue now and repeat the same before the Constitution bench later, Justice Ashok Bhushan reminded him that there are some procedures in this court which must be followed. He asked the counsel "how can you say that I will not argue before you and I will argue only before the Constitution bench before we decide whether reference is required or not."

Chief Justice Misra, however, did not, however, make any observations.

He, however, did underline that the court "will hear (the case) on all aspects, first, we will put this controversy (on 1994 verdict) to rest. We may take a decision to refer the entire 1994 judgment to a larger bench as well as the title dispute itself."

In December last, Mr Dhavan had announced his decision to quit practice after a particularly unpleasant back-and-forth with the bench in this case. He, however, later revised his decision.
 


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