Attorney General K K Venugopal has written to the Supreme Court Secretary General, registering his protest against the “sudden change” of the special counsel in a case concerning the Maharashtra State Wakf Board, and alleging attempts to prevent him from appearing in the case.
“Looking at the entirety of what has emerged, it seems that whoever is behind the events that have transpired, whether it is the beneficiaries of the transfer or anyone else, is bent upon ensuring that the Attorney General does not argue this case,” the AG said in his August 8 letter, seeking adjournment citing ill health.
The AG had earlier written to the Supreme Court Registrar over the developments in the case that involves an appeal against a 2011 Bombay High Court order which held that the state Wakf Board was illegally constituted and permitted the transfer of land to various beneficiaries by the Charity Commissioner.
The letter said that on July 14, following a mentioning by Senior Advocate Harish Salve, who raised the question, “is every case where a charitable be set up by Muslim be only a Wakf or can the general law of charity outside a Wakf be applicable”, the matter was listed for hearing.
The AG said that “by looking at the issue…it is difficult to find any urgency and what prompted the matter to be taken up for urgent disposal”. Though it was again mentioned on July 29 for advancing the hearing to August 2, the court decided to list it after ascertaining the state of his health as he had tested positive for Covid by then, submitted the AG.
He added “thereafter…came a series of events which were startling”.
On July 30, Advocate Javed Sheikh, who was the instructing counsel, was orally informed about his removal as special counsel in the matter, the AG said, adding “this was indeed shocking as no reason was given for this sudden change”. On August 1, Sheikh got the letter cancelling his appointment.
After the change of Advocate on Record, “no instructions to me to appear in the case were received”, said Venugopal. He further pointed out that in the earlier letter, he had said that “the attempt to remove the entire legal team just on the eve of the hearing was in gross contempt of court”.