New Delhi: Justice S.A. Bobde, one of the Supreme Court judges on the Constitution bench hearing the Ayodhya land dispute, has hit the headlines for asking sharp questions to senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, who is representing the Muslim parties in the matter. Seemingly, he is also called the peacekeeper in the family whenever a crisis imbues the top judiciary.
Dhavan, who is at his best in displaying oratory skills to build a strong case for the Muslim parties, is often probed by Justice Bobde by pointed queries originating from the aspect of faith and its relevance in the legal system.
On Friday, while the Muslim parties’ counsel was questioning the rationale of the belief in the disputed site in Ayodhya as being the birthplace of Ram, Bobde quipped, “Kaaba is sculpted or Swayambhu, self-existent.” Dhavan replied it is recognized as intrinsically divine.
Earlier, he had queried, was there any occasion before 1989 for anyone to assert that the birthplace was a juristic person, subject to law.
As Dhavan was building the case against Lord Ram’s birthplace, Bobde queried, “So the only thing we need to see is can the piece of land have certain rights or suffer certain liabilities.”
Earlier in the week, Bobde had asked him to clarify the status of Shebait, a person who serves the deity.
Bobde is a former Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court. He is also serving as the Chancellor of Maharashtra National Law University. With a tenure of eight years in the Supreme Court of India, he is in line to be Chief Justice of India after the superannuation of Justice Ranjan Gogoi on November 17. He is due to retire on 23 April 2021.
According to sources, Bobde stepped up to broker peace between then Chief Justice Dipak Misra and the four dissenting senior-most judges — Justices J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph — after the famous press conference on the irregularities in case allocation, a year and a half ago.
During a lecture in 2018, he said that the rule of law has its origin in India, and the rule of law, known as ‘dharma’ in ancient India, is the foundation of various laws of today.
Justice Bobde was involved in appointing former apex court judge Justice D.K. Jain as the first court-appointed ombudsman for the BCCI under the terms of the newly approved constitution of the cash-rich cricket board.
Justice Bobde is also a part of the powerful Supreme Court Collegium which decides transfers and appointments of judges.
In 2016, Justice Bobde, on a petition of three infants taking into consideration the grave quality of air, banned the sale and stocking of all kinds of firecrackers and issuance of new licences for the same in Delhi and the National Capital Region.
In 2017, Justice Bobde upheld a 19-year-old decision by the Karnataka government to ban and seize the book ‘Basava Vachana Deepti’ edited by seer Mate Mahadevi for hurting the religious sentiments of Lord Basaveshwara’s followers.