Babri witnesses get HC contempt notice

The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court has issued contempt notices to Shereen Ratnagar and D Mandal two witnesses in the Ram Janambhoomi Babri Masjid case.

Sunni Central Board of Waqf had roped in Ratnagar and Mandal as experts to study the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) report on excavation at the disputed site and interpret it before the court for the petitioners. After studying the report, they went ahead to pen a book called Ayodhya: Archaeology After Excavation. In the book, the two archaeologists have discussed the excavated data and the presentation and interpretation of these data by the ASI.

"The court has found certain portions of the book to be in violation of the High Court order, which had barred the witnesses and others involved in the case to express their opinions on the sensitive issue till the court arrives at a conclusion," said Zafaryab Jilani, counsel of the Sunni Central Board of Wakf.

On April 27, the Special Bench comprising Justices S U Khan, Sudhir Agarwal and D V Sharma had issued a notice to the authors and publisher Tulika Books. On Tuesday, publishers Indira Chandrashekhar and Shereen Ratnagar appeared before the court and tendered an unconditional apology. However, since D Mandal failed to appear on medical grounds, the court posted the matter for hearing on July 9. "The court has asked all the contemners to be present in the court for hearing," said Jilani.

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