New Delhi: Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi on Thursday took strong exception to a comment by an Uttar Pradesh minister who recently said that the Ram Mandir will be made because ‘the Supreme Court is ours.’

Commenting on the remark today, the CJI, who is heading the five-judge Constitution bench which is hearing the case on a day-to-day basis, said, “We deprecate such statements.’

Addressing a press conference in Bahraich two days ago, Uttar Pradesh Cooperative Minister Mukut Bihari Verma had said that the Ram Mandir will be made as the Supreme Court and the judiciary are ‘ours.’

Also today, Rajeev Dhavan, who is representing the Muslim side, alleged that his clerk had been assaulted by the lawyers on the court premises. The senior advocate further alleged that he had received fresh threats to life on Facebook. This comes days after the top court issued notices to two people, including a former government official, for threatening Dhavan with ‘dire consequences’ if he didn’t withdraw from the case.

Responding to claims made by Dhavan, the CJI said, “This shouldn’t be happening in the country. Both sides should be free to put their arguments without any fear.” Dhavan then declined the CJI’s offer to provide him security saying that the Chief Justice’s words were enough for him.

The day-to-hearing in the Ayodhya land dispute case began on August 6, days after the top court observed that a mediation panel, which was set up by the apex court itself to try and resolve the issue between the two sides, had failed to do so.

Today was 22nd day of hearing in the case,