Senior Advocate Zafaryab Jilani dismisses reports on UP Sunni Waqf Board’s withdrawal from Babri case in the Supreme Court
Abdul Bari Masoud | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI – Putting all rumours spread by a section of the media that the UP Sunni Waqf Board has “withdrawn” from the Babri Masjid-Ram Janambhoomi title dispute case to rest, senior advocate Zafaryab Jilani said on the last day of hearing on Wednesday no application was filed on behalf of the Waqf board for this purpose. Nonetheless, he asserted that the three-member mediation panel’s report would not have any bearing on the Ayodhya judgment which is expected to be delivered next month (November).
There were eight parties, which challenged Allahabad High Court’s Lucknow Bench’s judgement of 2010, including UP Sunni Central Board from the Muslim side while six parties were from Hindu side. The judgement had divided the Babri Masjid land of 2.77 acres into three parts.
In an exclusive interview with Caravan Daily, Advocate Jilani hoped that the Supreme Court would deliver its judgment in the case on the basis of hard evidence.
Zafaryab Jilani is the longest serving counsel from the Muslim side in the case is one of the most familiar faces in the legal battle and people’s movement for reclaiming the four-century old Babri Masjid in Ajodhya since 1983. It was late Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Nadwi aka Ali Miyan who impressed upon Zafaryab Jilani to take up the case.
When asked whether the Sunni Waqf board had formally filed application for the withdrawal from the Babri Masjid case, the soft spoken lawyer said All India Muslim Personal Law Board and Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind’s whole legal team was present in the courtroom on the last day of the hearing in the Babri Masjid case and they have not found any lawyer who could have filed the withdrawal petition on behalf of the UP Waqf Board. Even if an application had been filed in this regard, it would not have any bearing on the outcome of the case. Legally, if any party withdraws from the dispute, it does not affect the outcome of the case, he said.
How does he see that the UP Sunni Waqf Board’s willingness to “surrender” Babri mosque and its land with certain conditions? Answering the question, Jilani said he also learnt this from the media reports, but it won’t have any effect on the case. Furthermore, Waqf board has no legal right or power to surrender or gift any Waqf property as its legal position is very clear that it is a ‘custodian’ or trustee of the waqf properties. He, however, conceded that it might perturb Muslims psychologically.
When his attention was drawn towards the Supreme Court-appointed mediation panel’s submission of the report to the Court, the lawyer said the report was “confidential” and hence the bench did not share it with disputing parties, nor did it take their views for arriving at any judgment.
The mediation committee was headed by former Supreme Court judge FMI Kallifulla and its two members were Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a pro-RSS religious preacher, and Sriram Panchu, who submitted their report to the five-member Bench of the court on their second attempt.
When asked what actually did happen on the last day of the hearing, Jilani came down heavily on the media for presenting a wrong impression about the senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan. He said Dhavan sahib had torn up the pictorial map in the courtroom after the chief justice granted him permission as it was not related to the case earlier when it was in the Allahabad High Court. A section of the media tried to create unnecessary controversy around the board’s counsel Dhavan in order to garner some sympathy for the mandir cause, he added.
Even Dhavan threw some light on the incident. He said, “The incident is going viral. But the fact is that I wanted to throw the pages away and the CJI said I could tear them. And I tore them, so I’d say it was with the permission of court.”
It was triggered when Hindu Mahasabha counsel Vikas Singh sought to place reliance on the contents of the book ‘Ayodhya Revisited’. Dhavan objected to the same and with the permission of the CJI, he tore the pages.
In response to a question on the board’s legal teamwork, Jilani said, “The whole team under the leadership of Rajeev Dhavan worked tirelessly and diligently to defend the Babri case forcefully. Besides Dhavan’s powerful arguments, we have presented more than 200 hard evidence and proofs before the constitutional bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and exposed the contradictions in the claims of Hindu parties over the date of birth of Lord Ram.”
After hearing the arguments for 40 days, the Supreme Court on Wednesday wrapped up the daily hearings in the politically sensitive 70-year old case of the Babri Masjid-Ram Janambhoomi land dispute in Ayodhya and reserved its judgment.