Supreme Court cancels hearing in Ayodhya title suit

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has cancelled the hearing in the Ayodhya title suit case slated for January 29 by a five-judge bench due to the unavailability of one of the judges, Justice SA Bobde.

On Friday, the apex court had constituted a new five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice Abdul Nazeer, Justice SA Bobde and Justice DY Chandrachud.
Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice Abdul Nazeer were brought in to replace Justice UU Lalit and Justice NV Ramana as both of them were a part of the three-judge bench, headed by former CJI Deepak Misra, which refused to refer the matter to a five-judge Constitution bench by a 2:1 verdict in September last year.

The three-judge bench had ruled that the apex court would hear the issue purely as a “land dispute,” dismissing a plea to reconsider the apex court’s 1994 judgement that a mosque was an integral part of Islam.

On January 10, the Supreme Court had fixed January 29 as the next date for hearing after Justice UU Lalit recused himself from hearing the case, after advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for one of the Muslim parties, pointed out that Justice Lalit had appeared for Kalyan Singh in a related case.

However, Dhavan clarified that he was not requesting that Justice Lalit should recuse himself from hearing the case but was only bringing it to the notice of the apex court.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for one of the Hindu parties, said that there was no problem if Justice Lalit continued to hear the matter but the latter recused himself from hearing the case.

The bench in its order had said that there are 120 issues framed by the Allahabad High Court, 88 witnesses, testimonies running into 13,886 pages, 257 other documents, High Court judgment into 4,304 printed pages and 8,533 typed pages, and original records lying in 15 sealed trunks in a locked room.

The case has been pending before the apex court for the last eight years. Parties in the case and various right-wing organisations have been asking for an early or day-to-day hearing for a long time.

Last year, the top court had refused to grant an urgent hearing in the matter, saying the court had “other priorities” and posted the matter for hearing in the first week of January this year before the “appropriate bench.”

In 2010, the Allahabad High Court had divided the disputed land in Ayodhya into three parts for each of the parties—the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.