Chief Justice's Sharp Reprimand For Kapil Sibal, Others For Conduct in Court

On Tuesday, Kapil Sibal, Dushyant Dave and Rajeev Dhawan, all representing different Muslim petitioners in the case over who the disputed Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Uttar Pradesh's Ayodhya belongs to, had sought that hearings be deferred.

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Chief Justice's Sharp Reprimand For Kapil Sibal, Others For Conduct in Court

Kapil Sibal asked the top court to postpone hearing in the Ayodhya case till after the 2019 polls.

New Delhi:  The Supreme Court has censured Congress leader Kapil Sibal and other senior lawyers for the manner in which they argued when seeking that hearing in the Ayodhya case be deferred to after the 2019 national election, earlier this week. The lawyers had angrily said that they were not being given a "fair chance" and had threatened to walk out of the court. 

Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said today that the court is anguished and thoroughly disapproves of the lawyers' conduct. "Raising voices will never be tolerated. Argue on legal principles. Raising voice shows incompetency not worthy of senior lawyers," he said, adding, "When the Bar fails to regulate them, we will be compelled to regulate."

On Tuesday, Mr Sibal, Dushyant Dave and Rajeev Dhawan, all representing different Muslim petitioners in the case over who the disputed Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Uttar Pradesh's Ayodhya belongs to, had sought that hearings be deferred. Kapil Sibal argued that the BJP has said "a Ram temple will be built before 2019 through legal means. They want to make it an election manifesto and the court should not fall into the trap." He also said he needed time to go through 90,000 pages of documents associated with the case.

The court rejected the plea and set February 8 next as the date when it will begin final hearings in the Ayodhya title suit. 

The issue came up today when just before judges began hearing another case, when senior lawyer Gopal Subramanium said advocates must show respect to the institution and restrain themselves. He was referring to an exchange of words yesterday between lawyer Rajeev Dhavan and the Chief Justice while he court was hearing arguments on the power tussle between the Delhi government and the Centre. 

"We are compelled to compare with yesterday (when the court heard the Delhi government vs Centre case) and the day before yesterday (when it heard the Ayodhya case). We wanted to record in stronger words but lawyers said no. I showed grace. When arguments are made in court we pose questions. But if you argue in a manner not in constitutional language what to do," the Chief Justice said.
 
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In Gujarat, PM Narendra Modi attacked Congress over Kapil Sibal's Ayodhya remark.

Mr Sibal's comments in court have provoked a big political controversy, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking at an election rally in Gujarat why he linked the Ram temple to general elections. The BJP has accused the Congress of trying delay verdict in the case and said it firmly favours an early resolution. 

Kapil Sibal's party the Congress has distanced itself from what he said in court, saying those were made in is personal capacity as a lawyer.

Mr Sibal said yesterday he was representing an individual in the Ayodhya case and not the Sunni Waqf Board. "Our PM comments without knowing things sometimes. Amit Shah and he said I represented the Sunni Waqf Board. I was never a Sunni Waqf Board lawyer," Mr Sibal stated, 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.

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