A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi took note of the statement of senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for Muslim parties including Sunni Wakf Board in the Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute, that he has received a threat message on his Facebook wall and his clerk has also been abused and assaulted by some people as he had been appearing against Hindu bodies in the case.
"This should not be happening in the country. We deprecate such statements. Both sides are free to put their arguments before court without any fear," said the bench which also comprised justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer.
As soon as the bench assembled to commence hearing on 22nd day in the politically sensitive case, Dhavan submitted that the atmosphere was not "conducive" and "right" for the hearing and referred to two recent incidents.
"Last week, I received a message on my Facebook wall. I received threats. Yesterday, my clerk was told that his boss was arguing against the Hindu deity," he said, adding there was an ugly spat including fisticuffs with his clerk.
Then he referred to the purported statement of Uttar Pradesh minister Mukut Bihari Verma made in 2018 and said, "He had said that 'jagah hamari hai. Mandir hamara hai aur Supreme Court bhi hamari hai (the place is ours, so are the temple and the Supreme Court)."
"I cannot go on filing contempt petitions," Dhavan said, adding that there was "camaraderie" in the court, but the situation outside was not conducive and "one word from My lords" would serve the purpose.
The bench then asked Dhavan whether he wanted security cover but the offer was declined by the senior lawyer.
Dhavan said he was "not arguing against the Hindu faith" and "people forgot that I had argued Kashi and Kamakhya cases in past".
Dhavan's clerk later told reporters that some unknown persons on Wednesday had stopped him and asked as to why his employer lawyer was fighting case against Hindus. The clerk, however, said that he was not physically assaulted.
The top court then proceeded with the hearing in the case.
Earlier, the apex court had issued show cause notices to two persons, including an 88-year-old retired government servant N Shanmugam, on the contempt plea of Dhavan.
He had alleged that Shanmugam had hurled curses at him for taking up the case on behalf of Sunni Waqf Board and other Muslim parties.
Rajasthan resident Sanjay Kalal Bajrangi was the second person who had allegedly threatened Dhavan by sending a WhatsApp message.
Later, Dhavan had claimed that Iqbal Ansari, one of the litigants in the land dispute case, was attacked at his home in Ayodhya by two people including shooter Vartika Singh.