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LUCKNOW: In a fresh twist to the Ramjanmabhoomi case, the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board distanced itself on Wednesday from senior lawyer Kapil Sibal’s plea before the Supreme Court that hearing of the Ayodhya title suit be deferred to July 2019. The board said it wanted the case to be decided at the earliest. Other litigants from the Muslim side, too, supported the board’s view.
Appearing for the Muslim side before a three-judge bench on Tuesday, Sibal had said BJP’s 2014 election manifesto promised a Ram temple in Ayodhya. He asked the court to postpone hearings to July 2019, by when the general elections would have decided the fate of the Modi government.
He said that it was the most important litigation in the history of India and the case had widespread ramifications. UP Sunni Board chairman Zufar Ahmed Farooqi said, “Sibal was not the advocate on record (AOR) for the board which is the original litigant in the title suit. He is representing one of the private parties involved in the suit. Shahid Hussain Rizvi was our AOR in the Supreme Court.” He added that none of the board members supported the view that the case be deferred to July 2019. “We had no idea that any of the lawyers from the Muslim side would come up with such a plea,” he said.
PM Modi brought up the developments in his rallies in Gujarat, saying, “Congress says it is his (Sibal’s) personal opinion. But is the Waqf Board going to contest elections? He is clearly looking at loss or benefit for Congress.”
Sibal accused Modi of misstating that he represented the Sunni Waqf Board in the SC and said he represented a private person and not the board. Sibal said he appeared on behalf of Iqbal Ansari, son of the late Hashim Ansari, the original litigant in the case. But Iqbal Ansari said Sibal sought deferment of the case to 2019 on his own accord and no such brief was given to him by any of the litigants. He also claimed Sibal was not representing any of the private litigants and might have been asked by their authorised lawyers to appear in the case.
Asked if the Muslim side was considering disengaging Sibal from future hearings, Iqbal said, “All the Muslim litigants will soon sit together to discuss what has happened and put in place a strategy to decide what should be done in order to ensure that such things don’t happen again.” He insisted that all litigants wanted an early solution and the parties should be given sufficient time to present their case.
“We don’t want the case to be taken up in 2019. We need just enough time so that all the parties could get the records that have to be tabled before the court,” he told TOI. “If we sought time it was only because we had not got all the records of the case that are to be placed before the court. Once our lawyers get the records, we are all for regular hearing in the case,” Iqbal said.