Supreme Court cancels 29 January Ayodhya land dispute hearing due to non-availability of Justice SA Bobde

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Sunday cancelled the 29 January hearing in the politically-sensitive Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid land title dispute case as one member of the five-judge Constitution Bench will not be available then.

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

"Take notice that due to non availability of Justice SA Bobde on 29 January, 2019 (Tuesday), sitting of Constitution Bench in Chief Justice's court, comprising the Chief Justice, justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer, stands cancelled.

Supreme Court cancels 29 January Ayodhya land dispute hearing due to non-availability of Justice SA Bobde

File image of the Supreme Court of India. PTI

"Therefore, the Constitution Bench matter will not be taken up for hearing," the notice stated.

The five-judge bench was reconstituted on 25 January as Justice UU Lalit, who was a member of the original bench, had recused himself from hearing the matter. When the new bench was constituted, Justice NV Ramana was also excluded from the new 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 SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA 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 27 September, 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 10 January, Justice Lalit had recused himself after expressing 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 10 January, 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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Updated Date: Jan 28, 2019 08:34:38 IST