New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday formed a five-judge Constitution Bench to hear the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi title dispute case. The bench, to be headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, will decide on Thursday when to take up the politically sensitive case.
CJI Gogoi had said at the previous hearing on Friday that a three-judge bench would hear the title dispute, but decided to form a larger one of five judges instead as it assumes the status of a Constitution Bench. The other comprises judges on the bench are Justices SA Bobde, NV Ramana, UU Lalit and DY Chandrachud.
"Take notice that the following matters (petitions in the Ayodhya land dispute) will be listed on Thursday the 10th January, 2019 at 10.30 AM in Chief Justice's court before the constitution bench comprising the Chief Justice, S A Bobde, N V Ramana, Uday Umesh Lalit and Dr D Y Chandrchud, JJ," said a notice, which was uploaded on the apex court website.
The bench will from Thursday take forward the Ayodhya land dispute case in which as many as 14 appeals were filed against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgement, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land be partitioned equally among the three parties - the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla. The high court had concluded that Lord Ram, son of King Dashrath, was born within the 1,482.5 square yards of the disputed Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid premises over 9,00,000 years ago during the Treta Yuga.
The apex court on October 29 had fixed the matter in the first week of January before the "appropriate bench". Later, an application was moved for according an urgent hearing by advancing the date, but the top court had refused the plea, saying it had already passed an order on October 29 relating to the hearing of the matter.
The plea for early hearing was moved by the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha (ABHM) which is one of the respondents in the appeal filed by legal heirs of M Siddiq, one of the original litigants in the case.
A three-judge bench of the top court had on September 27 last year, by 2:1 majority, refused to refer to a five-judge constitution bench the issue of reconsideration of the observations in its 1994 judgement that a mosque was not integral to Islam. The matter had arisen during the hearing of the Ayodhya land dispute.
Various Hindutva organisations have been demanding an ordinance on early construction of Ram temple at the disputed site. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had last week suggested any decision on an ordinance on Ram temple in Ayodhya can happen only after the completion of the judicial process.
Modi's comments had come amidst heightened demands by Hindutava organisations, including the RSS, for an ordinance for an early construction of the temple. "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 government, we are ready to make all efforts," the prime minister had said during an interview, broadcast by several TV channels.