The Supreme Court on Thursday adjourned the hearing in politically sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case in Ayodhya till January 29 after All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) lawyer Rajeev Dhavan objected to Justice UU Lalit’s inclusion in the constitution bench. Dhavan had cited that Justice Lalit had earlier represented one of the parties in the case before the court. On this, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that he leaves it to Justice Lalit if he wants to rescue himself from the case. Following this, Justice Lalit recused himself from the five-judge constitution bench set up to hear the matter. Now, a new bench would be constituted by CJI Gogoi that would hear the case on January 29.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had constituted a five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justices SA Bobde, NV Ramana, UU Lalit and DY Chandrachud to hear a bunch of pleas against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment that ordered equal distribution of the 2.77-acre land among the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
Besides CJI, the other four justices of the Constitution Bench were in line to be the Chief Justice in the future. When justice Gogoi’s term ends, his successor would be Justice Bobde followed by Justices Ramana, Lalit and Chandrachud.
With Lok Sabha elections approaching the nation, various Hindutva organisations, including the RSS, are demanding the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government to bring an ordinance for the early construction of a grand temple of Lord Ram at Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya.
However, PM Modi had recently rejected the idea of bringing an Ordinance before the judicial process is over. Modi had said that an Ordinance can be brought only after the hearing in the Supreme Court concludes.
In October last year, the Supreme Court had decided to take up the matter on January 4 before the “appropriate bench”. However, on January 4, the matter was adjourned till January 10 in the hearing the lasted less than a minute.
During the January 4 hearing, when the matter was last taken up, it was not indicated that the case would be heard by the Constitution Bench. Then Chief Justice Gogoi had adjourned the matter till January 10 saying that it would be taken up by “the appropriate bench, as may be constituted”.