NEW DELHI: The Muslim parties made a U-turn Thursday on questioning the authorship of the summary of 2003 ASI report, which had held that a massive structure pre-existed the Babri Masjid, and apologised to the Supreme Court for wasting its time in the Ayodhya land dispute case.
A 5-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, was told by senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan that they do not wish to question the authorship of the summary of the ASI report, which had found artefacts, idols, pillars and other remains suggesting the existence of massive structure beneath the Babri Masjid.
The submission by the Muslim parties assumes importance as the apex court had on Wednesday asked them as to how their objections to the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) report could be entertained at this stage when they failed to take the legal remedy available to them under the law before the Allahabad High Court.
Going for the damage control, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, who is the lead lawyer for the Muslim parties, apologised for the submissions to that effect made by senior advocate Meenakshi Arora for the considerable duration on Wednesday.
"It is not expected that every page of the report needs to be signed. The authorship of the report and the summary need not be questioned. If, we had wasted my lords time, then we apologise for that. There is no point going into that discussion as it is futile. It goes into questioning the authenticity of the ASI report."
"The report in question has an author and we are not questioning the authorship," Dhavan said.
The bench at the outset asked both the Hindu and the Muslim parties to specify the time-frame for completing their arguments saying that there will not be any extra day after October 18.
"There will not be any extra day after October 18. It will be miraculous, if we deliver the judgement in four weeks in the matter," said the bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer.
Arora had on Wednesday attacked the ASI report saying it does not provide a verifiable conclusion and is mostly based on inferences.
She had said that the report, which has 10 chapters attributed to an author, had a summary that was not attributed to anybody.
The bench, however, stated that Dhavan in his opening remark has said that he has not forfeited his right to question the report but the evidence cannot be discredited after being accepted by the court.
The bench said there are three points -- whether the court commissioner decided on something which was not asked, whether the commissioner failed to decide what was asked or whether there were any contradictions in the report.
"In our views, these points can certainly be argued. We see no problem to that but the report which has been taken as evidence by the court cannot be discredited at this stage," it said.
Dhavan arguing the legal position said that they had tried to raise the objection to the ASI report before the High Court but the judges said that it would be decided at the final stage, which unfortunately was not done.
He said that under Order 26 of Rule 10 of sub-rule 2 of Civil Procedure Code, the report of the Commissioner and the evidence taken by him form part of the record and if a 5-judge Constitution bench decides that the report cannot be questioned, then it will have wide ramification.