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On day 33 of Ayodhya hearing, CJI says ‘things are not going as per our schedule’

The court has to weigh which inference is more probable and reasonable as there is no direct proof of a temple: Justice Bobde

Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi betrayed a growing sense of exasperation as the 33rd day of hearing in the Ayodhya dispute (Friday) drew to a close.

“Things are not going as per our schedule!” he said, moments before the Constitution Bench rose. The hearing was a half-day affair. The Bench rose by 12.45 p.m.

The usual practice is to hear the case till 5 p.m and through the weekdays. The day starts at 10.30 a.m. and the first half of the hearing is over by around 1 p.m. The Bench reconvenes at 2.15 p.m. and continues till 4 p.m. After a 15-minute break, the judges reassemble for another 45 minutes before calling it a day.

 

The CJI had urged lawyers to complete their oral submissions by October 18. This would give the judges at least a month to write their judgments before Chief Justice Gogoi retires on November 17.

However, the court calendar shows an October spotted in red for court holidays. There is Dussehra from October 7-12 and later Diwali between October 28 and November 2. Besides the weekends, October 2 is also a holiday.

The Chief Justice’s comment on Friday came when senior advocate Shekhar Naphade said he would need at least two hours more for his arguments and the court had so far given him only 45 minutes.

Yesterday, the CJI ticked off some lawyers who wanted to intervene in the case and argue. “You will go on arguing and we will go on hearing till my last working day. Today is the 32nd day of arguments… What is this” he asked those lawyers.

The Ayodhya case is near the half-way mark to the longest heard case in the Supreme Court history – the Kesavananda Bharati or the Basic Structure case. In that, the hearings had spanned 68 working days from October 1972 to March 1973. The judgment was delivered on the last working day of then Chief Justice of India S.M. Sikri, who led the 13-judge Bench.

During the Friday hearing, Justice S.A. Bobde, on the Bench, said the contradicting claims of both Hindus and Muslims about a Ram temple buried in the disputed land were based on sheer inferences. There was not a single eyewitness.

Justice Bobde said hence there was no other way for the court to decide which claim was true except by gauging which side’s guess was more reasonable or probable.

ASI report

Both Justices Abdul Nazeer and D.Y. Chandrachud, however, reacted strongly to senior advocate Meenakshi Arora’s submission that the Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI) report of 2003 of a massive structure suggesting a temple underneath as “weak evidence” and a mere opinion.

“You cannot equate the Commissioner's [ASI] report with any other ordinary opinion. He conducted it [Ayodhya dig] in the delegated position of the judge,” Justice Nazeer addressed Ms. Arora.

“The inferences [in the ASI report] are by cultivated, studied minds,” Justice Chandrachud said.

“The court has to weigh which inference is more probable, reasonable as there is no direct proof of a temple,” Justice Bobde reiterated.

To this, Ms. Arora asked what stopped the court from inferring that the structure believed to be underneath was not a Jain, Buddhist one.

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 12:42:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/on-day-33-of-ayodhya-hearing-cji-says-things-are-not-going-as-per-our-schedule/article29531090.ece

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