Supreme Court reconstitutes Ayodhya bench, with 2 new judges, case to be heard on Jan 29
The new bench has replaced the old one headed by the Chief Justice with probable chief justices of India as its members: justices SA Bobde, NV Ramana, UU Lalit and DY CHandrachud.Updated: Jan 25, 2019 23:43 IST
Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi reconstituted on Friday the bench hearing the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute. The new five-judge bench will start hearing the contentious, decades-long dispute on January 29.
A fresh notice uploaded on the Supreme Court’s official website shows that justice Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer will be members of the new five-judge constitution bench that is expected to hear the volatile title suit on January 29. The bench continues to be headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. Its other members will be Justices SA Bobde and DY Chandrachud.
The new bench has replaced the old one headed by the Chief Justice with probable chief justices of India as its members: justices SA Bobde, NV Ramana, UU Lalit and DY CHandrachud.
On January 10, when this bench heard the case, Justice Lalit recused himself after it was pointed to him that he had appeared in a case related to the Ram Janmabhoomi one in 1997. The reasons for Justice Ramana’s exclusion from the new bench are not known.
Justices Bhushan and Nazeer were on the bench along with the then CJI Dipak Misra, that did not concede to a request made by Muslim parties to refer the Ayodhya title dispute to larger bench. That demand came in the context of its own observations in an earlier judgement by five judges in the 1994 Ismail Faruqui case where it was held that a mosque is not an essential part of the practice of the religion of Islam and namaz by Muslims can be offered anywhere, even in the open.
Muslim petitioners in the Ram Janmabhoomi case said that the Ayodhya title dispute could not be decided until that judgement was revisited. The three-judge bench of the Supreme Court in September ruled that the earlier observation was in the context of acquisition of land.
The case has been pending before the apex court since 2010 when 14 cross-appeals were filed against the Allahabad high court’s judgement dividing the 2.77 acre land equally among the three parties - the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara, a Hindu religious denomination, and Ram Lalla, or infant Ram, represented by the Hindu Mahasabha.
The Supreme Court was originally supposed to hear the case in October, but deferred this to January, rejecting the Uttar Pradesh government’s plea for speedy hearings with CJI Gogoi saying the court has its “own priorities”
The postponement led to demands from several right-wing groups affiliated to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party for a law or executive order to facilitate the building of a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a recent interview that his government would wait for the courts to rule on the case.