Faultlines seem to have emerged among Muslim organisations over the fate of the Babri Masjid review petition and legal representation in the apex court.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, who represented Muslim parties in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title case, on Tuesday said that he has been “sacked from the Babri case” by the advocate on record (AOR) representing Jamiat-ulama-i-Hind, a socio-religious organisation which has already filed a review petition in the case.
For much of the day, there was outrage within All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), which is expected to file its review on December 6, the anniversary of Babri Masjid demolition, over the issue and even murmurs that Jamiat was “compromising” with the government.
In the evening, AIMPLB issued the statement praising Dhavan, calling his representation of the Muslim side in the Ayodhya case “unforgettable” and commending the “honesty” and “boldness” with which he fought the case. Advocate M R Shamshad, AOR for AIMPLB and other parties, said Dhavan will be “persuaded to continue to appear” in the case. “He was a counsel for the Muslim community at large,” he said.
In a statement, also in the evening, Jamiat president Arshad Madani also denied that Dhavan has been removed from the case and said, “We value his services and he continues to represent us.”
On Tuesday morning, Dhavan posted on Facebook: “Just been sacked from the Babri case by AOR Ejaz Maqbool who was representing the Jamiat. Have sent formal letter accepting the ‘sacking’ without demur. No longer involved in the review or the case. I have been informed that Mr Madani has indicated that I was removed from the case because I was unwell. This is total nonsense.
“He has a right to instruct his lawyer AOR Ejaz Maqbool to sack me, which he did on instructions. But the reason being floated is malicious and untrue.”
In his statement later, Jamiat chief Madani said: “It is not true that we have decided to go without senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan. We value his services and he continues to represent us. Ejaz Maqbool was always the advocate on record, which is why he filed the petition but it is wrong to infer from this that we have sacked Rajeev Dhavan.”
Stating that AIMPLB is “thankful” to Dhavan, the Board’s general secretary, Maulana Wali Rehmani, said the senior advocate fought the case “with courage, honesty and sincerity in spite of threats against him. We are ready to file the review petition and he will lead us”.
Calling Dhavan’s services “unparelleled and unforgettable”, the AIMPLB statement says: “The steadfastness, sincerity, courage with which he fought the case despite opposition of a section that criticised him and carried on a social media campaign against him…he remained steady in his pursuit and was never disturbed by all this. AIMPLB is thankful to him on behalf of the entire Muslim community and all those who are for peace and justice.”
Sources in Jamiat said the date of filing the petition led to the falling out, with Dhavan insisting on going through the petition before it is filed and the organisation pushing for an early filing. By law, a review petition needs to be filed within a month of the judgment being pronounced, in this case November 9.
Without getting into the controversy over Dhavan, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind backed AIMPLB’s decision to file a review petition. JIH also backed the AIMPLB’s move to reject the 5 acres of land awarded by the apex court. — With Inputs from Apurva Vishwanath