The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a contempt plea filed by advocate Rajeev Dhavan against a Chennai-based man for allegedly threatening him for representing the Sunni Wakf Board in the Ayodhya case, PTI reported.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi told senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Dhavan, that the contempt plea would be taken up on Tuesday. Apart from Gogoi, the bench also comprises SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer.

In his petition, Dhavan said he received a letter from a retired education officer N Shanmugam on August 14, in which he threatened him for appearing for the Muslim parties in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case. The advocate represents lead petitioner M Siddiq and the All India Sunni Waqf Board in the ongoing Ayodhya hearings.

“He is intimidating a senior advocate who is appearing for a party/parties before the apex court and discharging his duties as a senior advocate and he ought not to have sent such a letter,” Dhavan’s petition said.

He also said this was not the only instance of threats he has received for appearing in the Ayodhya case. He attached screenshots of WhatsApp messages sent by a man identified as Sanjay Kalal Bajrangi in his petition. Some of the messages Dhavan received from him said: “Vakeel Sahib, Please give your full support in getting positive decision on Ram Mandir Matter”, “Please be with Hindu Society”, “The words of your final journey shall be chanted as Ram Nam Satya,” according to Bar and Bench.

Dhavan added that he had been accosted both at his home and in the court premises with intimidating behaviour by several people.

“Exercise suo motu powers under Article 129 of the Constitution of India and Section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act taking cognisance of the criminal contempt on the basis of the facts placed on record against the contemnor/opposite party for committing criminal contempt,” his plea added.

The Ayodhya dispute has been going on for several decades, with both Hindu and Muslim groups claiming their right to the land. The Babri Masjid stood there before it was demolished in 1992 by Hindutva activists. In 2010, the Allahabad High Court had ordered the land to be divided in three equal parts between the Nirmohi Akhara, the Sunni Wakf Board and the representative for the deity Ram. A mediation effort by a court-appointed panel failed earlier this year, after which the Supreme Court began hearing the case on a daily basis.

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