A new five-judge Constitution Bench was constituted Friday in the Supreme Court to hear on January 29 the politically sensitive Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid land title dispute in Ayodhya.
The bench was re-constituted as Justice U U Lalit, who was a member of the original bench had recused himself on January 10 after expressing his 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 connected matter “sometime in the year 1997”.
The new bench comprises of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer.
Justice N V Ramana, who was in the bench which last heard the matter on January 10, is not a member in the new bench.
Justices Bhushan and Nazeer are the new members in the bench.
A notice sent by the Supreme Court registry to various parties said that the Ayodhya dispute matter will be listed on Thursday, January 29, 2019, in “Chief Justice’s court before the constitution bench comprising the CJI, and Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer.”
Justice Bhushan and Nazeer were part of the three-judge bench, then headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra (since retired), which on September 27, 2018, by a 2:1 majority verdict refused to refer to a five-judge Constitution Bench reconsideration of the observations in its 1994 judgement that a mosque was not integral to Islam. The matter arose during the hearing of the Ayodhya land dispute.
Justice Nazeer had delivered minority judgement. Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgement, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land be partitioned equally among three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.