The sudden rush to build the temple.

The sudden rush to build the temple.

Muslim bodies back Sibal’s stand in court to defer Babri hearing to July 2019

Wanted hearing deferred to after general elections 2019; SC turns it down

Agency Report | New Delhi | 6 December, 2017 | 11:00 PM

All petitioners in the Babri Masjid-Ramjanmabhoomi case, including the Sunni Waqf Board, have said that they totally support senior lawyer Kapil Sibal’s plea to the Supreme Court that the hearing of the case should be deferred till July 2019. One of the Babri Masjid litigants, Haji Mehboob, however, felt Muslims want an early resolution of the decades-old dispute, contradicting Kapil Sibal's contention that the hearing is deferred till after the 2019 general elections.

The Waqf Board also emphasised that Haji Mehboob — one of the many plaintiffs in the case who on Wednesday differed with Sibal’s stand — is neither a member of the Sunni Waqf Board nor does he represent the Board in any capacity.

“Whatever Kapil Sibal saheb said in the Supreme Court yesterday (Tuesday) was said after thorough consideration and after taking us into confidence. We totally support his stand,” Zafaryab Jilani, a member of the Babri Masjid Action Committee, who is actively involved in the case since the beginning, said.

He said that it could be Mehboob’s personal opinion but not the official stand of any of the parties involved in the case.

Advocate Shakil Ahmed, one of the lawyers representing the Sunni Waqf Board in the case, said that Haji Mehboob has “no connection” with his client and was “just another plaintiff”.

Ahmed said that they have got no communication from their client — the Sunni Waqf Board — to the effect that they have any objection to the stand taken by the lawyers in the apex court.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), a leading plaintiff in the case that is also bearing the cost of litigation, also said that Sibal’s plea was right as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would try to cash in on the Ram temple issue in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

“We completely agree with Mr Sibal’s arguments in the Supreme Court. The hearing in the case should be deferred till after the 2019 general elections,” AIMPLB Chairman Maulana Wali Rahmani said.

On Tuesday, while arguing in the Supreme Court, Sibal pleaded before the three-judge Bench headed by the Chief Justice of India to defer the hearing in the Babri Masjid-Ramjanmabhoomi case till July 2019 on the grounds that the BJP may try to use it as a poll plank and politicise the issue.

However, amid heated arguments between the lawyers of the two sides, the court rejected the plea and set February 8, 2018, as the next date of hearing.

Iqbal Ansari, the son of the late Hashim Ansari who was the first litigant in the case, too said that he had no objection to Sibal’s arguments.

“Our lawyers told us that some documents have to be prepared and a lot of documents are to be scrutinised to prepare the arguments and hence they need an adjournment. I have no objection to it,” Ansari said.

Naved Hamid, Chairman of All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat – an umbrella body of various Muslim organisations – said that Haji Mehboob’s comments might be due to “political ignorance” and that the Mushwarat is in “complete agreement with what Sibal saheb has said in the court”.

“This case has been dragging for a quarter of a century now. So I think there is no harm if it is adjourned for one more year. In any case, there are more than 90,000 documents which have to be examined. Even if the court hears the case on a daily basis, it will probably take more than a year to finish,” Hamid said.
A day after the Supreme Court hearing, Haji Mehboob said he didn’t know why Sibal was seeking a deferment.

“Yes, Kapil Sibal is our lawyer. But he is also affiliated with a political party. His statement in the Supreme Court is wrong. He should not have said that. We want that the dispute be resolved at the earliest,” Mehboob said here on the 25th anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition.

He said 25 years have passed since the mosque was destroyed and Muslims didn’t want the replay of the deadly communal riots that rocked the country in the aftermath of the demolition.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) criticized Sibal for his remarks in the Supreme Court on Tuesday which it said was politicising the issue by linking it to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. (IANS)