Written by Vidisha Mathur
K.K. Venugopal, Advocate General of India, sought adjournment in the case until he recuperates from the symptoms of COVID 19, through a letter to the Secretary General of the Supreme Court. He writes in that letter that someone sincerely wishes to assure him that he does not argue the Mumbai Waqf Case.
K.K. Venugopal had already written in a communication to the Registrar of the Supreme Court, expressing shock and displeasure at the replacement of his Advocate on Record and Instructing Counsel, without his knowledge.
The concerned case herein deals with the question of whether every charitable trust held by a Muslim person can be considered waqf property. Maharashtra Government’s circular constituting the Waqf board and the notification of properties falling under Waqf was struck down by the Bombay High Court. An appeal was filed in the Supreme Court by the Maharashtra State Board of Waqfs against this decision.
Venugopal reported that Harish Salve had mentioned a case associated with the Maharashtra Waqf case in question, which was decided to be due next week. An agreement between Salve and the Attorney General led to the matter being adjourned to August 10 but was then advanced by Salve, owing to some urgency.
Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan was informed by the court of Venugopal’s illness and the CJI N.V. Ramana listed the matter for August 2; said he could then consider the Attorney General’s health and list further accordingly.
The Maharashtra Waqf canceled Javed Shaikh’s, who is instructing Venugopal as a special counsel, appointment, and hence, he was unable to brief Adv. Sankaranarayana.
K.K. Venugopal stated that a change in the Advocate on record did not affect his right to an audience under Article 76(3) of the Constitution. Since he did not know when he would be able to appeal, he reasoned that the contemnors free themselves of contempt before commencement.
When the case was heard last Tuesday, K.K. Venugopal apprised the bench that he was not representing the Waqf board, owing to his removal. The Counsel apologized. The Chief Justice of India reprimanded him, condemning the way he addressed the Attorney General and for the fact, that he forced him to write the letter.