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In 10-second Ayodhya hearing, SC says new bench to be set up before January 10

A 2010 Allahabad high court decision had ordered partition of the 2.77 acre of disputed land in Ayodhya among three parties, namely, deity Ram Lalla, the Nirmohi Akhara and the Sunni Waqf Board.

india Updated: Jan 04, 2019 22:56 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The Supreme Court also dismissed a fresh petition that asked the top court to give a reasoned order why the Ayodhya case is not being taken up on a “priority order”.
The Supreme Court also dismissed a fresh petition that asked the top court to give a reasoned order why the Ayodhya case is not being taken up on a “priority order”.(HT Photo.)
         

A new three-judge bench which will be formed by the Chief Justice of India before January 10 will hear the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case and any further orders on the land dispute in Ayodhya will be passed by the bench, the Supreme Court said on Friday.

“Further orders in the matter will be passed on January 10 by the appropriate bench, as may be constituted,” a bench comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi and justice SK Kaul said.

The new judges will, on the next date of hearing, fix a schedule for the decades-old title dispute and decide whether it should be taken up on a daily basis.

The hearing on Friday lasted barely 10 seconds. Lawyers on both sides got no opportunity to address the court.

As the case was called out in the morning, the CJI said: “This is the Ram Janmabhoomi case, please listen to the order.”

Senior lawyers Harish Salve and Rajeev Dhawan, appearing for opposite parties, could not make a submission as justice Gogoi dictated the order and went on to the next

matter on the agenda.

The case was expected to be heard in October, but the court pushed its hearing to January.

Hindu organisations claim that the disputed site in Ayodhya is the birthplace of Ram and that a mosque, the Babri Masjid, was constructed in the 16th century on the ruins of a temple that was demolished by the Mughals. The mosque was razed in December 1992 by Hindu karsevaks (volunteers).

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On Friday, the top court dismissed a fresh petition that asked it to give a reasoned ruling why the Ayodhya case is not being taken up on a “priority order”.

The 14 cross-appeals will now come up before the new bench on the next date. They are against the Allahabad high court’s 2010 judgment dividing the 2.77 acre land equally among three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara, a Hindu religious denomination, and Ram Lalla, or infant Ram, represented by the Hindu Maha Sabha — for the construction of a Ram temple.

The matter has been pending before the top court since 2010. Last year, a bench led by the then chief justice Dipak Misra had indicated that the decades-old dispute would be heard on a day-to-day basis.

But it then had to adjudicate upon a preliminary issue raised by Muslim parties who demanded that the court first constitute and decide the question as to whether a mosque was an integral part of Islam. They wanted the court to revisit a 1994 judgment on the matter.

On September 27, the court settled the question by rejecting the contention. By a 2-1 majority, it refused to refer the matter to a Constitution Bench. With CJI Misra’s retirement, a new bench had to hear the land dispute case. On October 29, a bench led by current CJI Gogoi fixed the case for the first week of January before the “appropriate bench”.

A delay in settling the Ayodhya dispute has led to demands for an ordinance, or executive order for the early construction of a majestic Ram temple on the disputed site.

In a New Year interview to news agency ANI, Prime Minister Narendra Modi indicated that any decision on such an ordinance could be taken only after the completion of the judicial process.

First Published: Jan 04, 2019 07:05 IST

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