KV Correspondent

Activists out of Ayodhya land dispute, SC to hear original litigants

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court today dashed the hopes of activists like Shyam Benegal and Teesta Setalvad to intervene in the sensitive Babri Masjid-Ram Temple land dispute case, making it clear that only the parties to the original lawsuits would be allowed to put forth their arguments.

A special bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra also said it would first decide whether the land dispute appeals be sent to a five-judge constitution bench as sought by lead petitioner M Siddiq (since deceased), who is represented by legal heirs in the case.

“Counsel for appellants, as well as, the respondents in all the appeals have raised objections for such intervention/impleadment/filing additional documents/seeking permission to render assistance.

“We are of considered opinion that these interlocutory applications do not merit any consideration and they are accordingly rejected,” the bench, which also comprised Justices Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer, said.

The bench went a step further and directed its Registry “not to entertain any interlocutory applications for intervention or impleadment”. It, however, said that the parties can file additional papers.

It accepted the vehement contention of both the parties, Hindu and Muslim organisations and individuals, that only original parties to the dispute be allowed to argue.

Besides Benegal and Setalvad, eminent persons like Aparna Sen and Anil Dharker wanted to intervene for using the disputed 2.77 acre disputed land for some ‘secular’ purposes. The intervention plea of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, at whose instance the cases were fast-tracked by the apex court, was also rejected.

The bench, however, considered Swamy’s submission that he had not sought to intervene in the matter but filed a separate writ petition seeking enforcement of his fundamental right to worship at the birth place of Lord Ram in Ayodhya.

“I had filed a writ petition saying that I have a fundamental right to worship and this is a superior right than property right,” Swamy said.

“As we are not inclined to permit the intervention application, the writ petition filed by the applicant (Swamy) shall stand revived and it shall be dealt with by the appropriate Bench in accordance with law,” the bench said.

The bench, after deciding the fate of the pleas for intervention, proceeded with the hearing and asked senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for M Siddiq, to argue and persuade it as to why these matters be sent to a larger bench. PTI


KV Correspondent

Kashmir Correspondent cover all daily updates for the newspaper

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