SC reconstitutes 5-member Constitution Bench to hear Ayodhya land dispute

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 26 Jan 2019 09:53:43




A NEW 5-judge Constitution Bench was constituted by the Supreme Court on Friday to hear on January 29 the politically sensitive Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid land title dispute in Ayodhya.

The bench was re-constituted as Justice U U Lalit, who was a member of the original bench, recused himself on January 10 after expressing disinclination to participate in the hearing any further as he had appeared as a lawyer for former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh in a connected matter “sometime in the year 1997”. The new bench comprises of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer.

Justice N V Ramana, who was in the bench which last heard the matter on January 10, is also not a member in the new bench. Justices Bhushan and Nazeer are the new members in the bench.

A notice sent by the Supreme Court registry to various parties said that the Ayodhya dispute matter will be listed on Thursday, January 29, 2019, in “Chief Justice’s court before the constitution bench comprising the CJI, and Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer.”

Justices Bhushan and Nazeer were part of the 3-judge bench, then headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra (since retired), which on September 27, 2018 gave a 2:1 verdict refusing to refer to a 5-judge Constitution Bench reconsideration of the observation in its 1994 judgement that a mosque was not integral to Islam. The matter arose during the hearing of the Ayodhya land dispute. Justice Nazeer had delivered a minority judgement.

Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgement, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land be partitioned equally among three parties -- the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

On January 10, the bench in its order had noted that Secretary General of the apex court registry has informed the CJI that in four suits, out of which these appeals have arisen, in all 120 issues have been framed for trial and a total of 88 witnesses were examined. It had noted that depositions of witnesses run into 13,886 pages and a total of 257 documents exhibited.