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CJI fumes at 20-20 match remark on expedited Ayodhya dispute hearing

Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on Thursday reprimanded lawyers for having a casual outlook on the order and nature of arguments in the Ayodhya title dispute, against the backdrop of the October 18 deadline.
CJI fumes at 20-20 match remark on expedited Ayodhya dispute hearing

The apex court is in the midst of an expedited hearing and had urged counsel for both sides to extend their full cooperation on the agreed scheduled and scope of the arguments.

The Chief Justice pulled up senior advocate Sushil Jain, representing the Nirmohi Akhara, for calling the expedited hearing in the dispute a "20-20" match.

Jain, having a quick chat with lawyers, before rising for final submissions before the court, said: "Now, let me join the 20-20 match."

This comment was considered irrelevant by the Chief Justice.

"What is this. Mr. Jain? I did not like the way you described it, what is this 20-20 match? Ok, let it be a test match, continue to go on with your arguments. You have argued for four and half day, and now, at this stage you call it a 20-20 match," said the Chief Justice in a strong tone.

As Jain immediately expressed regret on his comments, Chief Justice Gogoi replied: "We do not appreciate it the way you are explaining it... what is this? Tomorrow it will come in the press, this 20-20 match."

Jain then apologized.

A five-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice is hearing the matter daily since August 6, and structured a plan to wrap up all the arguments on the dispute on or before October 18.

The Chief Justice also disallowed senior counsel P.N. Mishra, representing a Hindu party, to raise Ram Setu, as an evidence to counter Muslim parties' argument.

Objecting to it, senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan, representing the Sunni Waqf Board, had said: "This is new evidence, if permission is granted for it, then it will become a continuous argument."

Chief Justice told Mishra: "You need to confine your arguments to their (Muslim parties') reply."

Justice D.Y. Chandrachud also told Mishra if something is shown to them, which is confined to the main argument, then they can consider it. The Chief Justice then asked Mishra to turn-off his microphone to continue his argument.

Later, Mishra cited a Hindu dictionary, which was again objected by the opposite parties, and the CJI intervened again.

"We cannot take into account new evidence at this stage. You are in the first appeal. We have already indicated the scope of arguments. How can we go on like this?" he said.

As Mishra described his submissions relevant to put before a Constitution bench hearing the matter, the CJI reprimanded him, saying that merely, five judges are sitting on the bench does not make it a Constitution bench, and in fact, it is a larger bench, and queries of such nature should be placed before a Constitution bench.

( With inputs from IANS )

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