A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court will decide the date and schedule for the hearing in the politically sensitive case of Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute in Ayodhya on Thursday. The bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justices SA Bobde, NV Ramana, UU Lalit and DY Chandrachud, will hear as many as 14 petitions 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.
In October last year, the Supreme Court had decided to take up the matter on January 4 before the “appropriate bench”. However, on January four, the matter was adjourned till January 10 in the hearing the lasted less than a minute.
On September 27, 2017, a three-judge bench of the top court had rejected a plea seeking to refer to the five-judge Constitution Bench for reconsideration of its observations in the 1994 verdict that a mosque wasn't an integral part of Islam. The issue had arisen during the hearing of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case.
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”.
Besides CJI, the other four justices of the Constitution Bench are 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.
“Let the judicial process take its own course. Don’t weigh it in political terms. Let the judicial process be over. After the judicial process is over, whatever be our responsibility as a government, we are ready to make all efforts,” the prime minister had said during an interview to news agency ANI.