SC cancels January 29 hearing in Ayodhya land dispute case over unavailability of judge

The five-judge bench was re-constituted on January 25, as Justice U U Lalit, who was a member of the original bench, had recused himself from hearing the matter.

Published: 27th January 2019 06:57 PM  |   Last Updated: 28th January 2019 02:56 AM   |  A+A-

Supreme Court

File photo of the Supreme Court of India (Photo| PTI)

By PTI

NEW DELHI:  The Supreme Court Sunday cancelled the January 29 hearing in the politically sensitive Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid land title dispute case as one member of the five-judge Constitution bench would not be available.

The sitting of the Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi stands cancelled as Justice S A Bobde will not be available on January 29, as per a notice issued by the Supreme Court registry.

READ| We can resolve Ayodhya dispute in 24 hours if Supreme Court can't: Yogi Adityanath

"Take notice that due to non-availability of Justice S A Bobde on January 29, 2019 (Tuesday), sitting of Constitution bench in Chief Justice's court, comprising the Chief Justice, Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer, stands cancelled.

"Therefore, Constitution bench mater will not be taken up for hearing," the notice stated.

The five-judge bench was re-constituted on January 25 as Justice U U Lalit, who was a member of the original bench, had recused himself from hearing the matter.

When the new bench was constituted, Justice N V Ramana was also excluded from the re-constitution bench.

No reason was cited for the exclusion of Justice Ramana in the new Constitution bench.

Besides the CJI, the new bench comprises justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer.

In the fresh bench, justices Bhushan and Nazeer made a come back to hear the matter.

Both of them were part of an earlier bench headed by then CJI Dipak Misra (now retired).

It had on September 27, 2018, refused to refer to a five-judge Constitution bench the reconsideration of the observation in its 1994 judgment that a mosque was not integral to Islam.

While Misra and Bhushan had said it has to find out the context in which the five-judge bench had delivered the 1994 judgment, Justice Nazeer had given a minority verdict disagreeing with the two judges.

Nazeer had said whether a mosque is integral to Islam has to be decided considering religious belief which requires detailed consideration.

On January 10, Justice Lalit had recused himself after expressing a 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 related matter "sometime in the year 1997".

Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya 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 the apex court registry's secretary general 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.

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