The Supreme Court on Friday reconstituted a bench that is set to hear the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute on January 29. An earlier hearing on January 10 was adjourned after Justice UU Lalit recused himself from the matter.
Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said the new bench would comprise Justices Ashok Bhushan, Abdul Nazeer, SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud and himself. The earlier five-judge Constitution bench included Gogoi, Bobde, Chandrachud, NV Ramana and UU Lalit.
Nazeer and Bhushan were part of the bench hearing the matter headed by former Chief Justice Dipak Misra in September 2018. The bench had given a 2:1 verdict that declined a plea for a larger bench to re-examine a 1994 Supreme Court judgement that had made an observation that not every mosque could be deemed integral to Islam. Nazeer had dissented saying the matter needs the consideration of a Constitution bench.
Justice Lalit had recused himself from the matter after senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan had pointed out that Lalit had appeared as counsel in another Ram temple case.
The Supreme Court had in October rejected the Uttar Pradesh government’s appeal for an early hearing in the case. As many as 14 separate petitions have been filed against the 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict ordering a three-way division of the land on which the Babri Masjid stood. The land was divided equally between the Nirmohi Akhara, the Sunni Wakf Board and the representative for the deity Ram Lalla in the 2010 judgement.