Attorney General KK Venugopal has written to the Supreme Court alleging that there has been an attempt to ensure that he does not appear in a case pertaining to the Maharashtra Wakf Tribunal, Live Law reported on Tuesday.
The Supreme Court is hearing a dispute about whether any charitable trust created by a Muslim would automatically be governed by the Wakf, or whether it could be a public trust.
A Wakf is an institution or property dedicated for a religious or charitable purpose by a person who professes Islam. Wakf tribunals decide on disputes related to such properties.
Venugopal on August 8 wrote to the secretary general of the Supreme Court seeking an adjournment in the matter, as he was yet to recover from the after effects of a Covid-19 infection. In the letter, he said that there was a “startling series of events” that led him to believe that somebody was “bent upon ensuring that the attorney general does not argue this case”.
Venugopal said that on July 14, senior advocate Harish Salve mentioned the case before Chief Justice of India NV Ramana for urgent hearing, The Indian Express reported. “By looking at the issue…it is difficult to find any urgency and what prompted the matter to be taken up for urgent disposal,” he said.
The attorney general added that on July 30, Javed Sheikh – who was an instructing counsel for him – was orally informed that the state government had decided to remove him from the case. Two days later, Sheikh got a letter about the cancellation of his appointment, he said.
Venugopal said that after the advocate on record was changed, “no instructions to me to appear in the case were received”.
Last week, the attorney general had objected to the replacement of the advocate on record, stating that such a change at the last minute amounted to interfering with the judicial process. Chief Justice Ramana had then told the lawyer for the Maharashtra State Board of Wakfs that this was “not the way to behave” with the attorney general.