The Supreme Court will on Tuesday resume the hearing of the Ayodhya land dispute case at 10.30 am. The previous hearing on January 29 could not take place as Justice SA Bobde of the five-judge Constitution bench was not available.
The bench also comprises Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Ashok Bhushan, Abdul Nazeer and DY Chandrachud. This bench was formed by Gogoi in January after an earlier hearing on January 10 was adjourned because Justice UU Lalit recused himself from hearing the matter.
The previous five-judge Constitution bench comprised Gogoi, Bobde, Chandrachud, NV Ramana and UU Lalit.
The Supreme Court had in October rejected the Uttar Pradesh government’s appeal for an early hearing in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case. As many as 14 separate petitions have been filed against the 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict that ordered a three-way division of the land on which the Babri Masjid stood before it was demolished in 1992. 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.
Hindutva organisations have been demanding that the Supreme Court pass a verdict in the case as soon as possible. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has also bemoaned the delay in the hearing of the case.
On Monday, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy mentioned before the Supreme Court his plea that he has a fundamental right to offer prayers at the disputed site in Ayodhya. However, the bench asked him to be present in court on Tuesday.
Last year, the court had disallowed Swamy’s intervention petition in the Ayodhya land dispute case, and said only parties to the original lawsuit will be allowed to file pleas. However, the bench admitted Swamy’s plea that he had filed a writ petition seeking enforcement of his fundamental right to worship at the birth place of Ram.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court also decided to hear a fresh petition challenging the constitutional validity of a 1993 law that helped the Centre acquire around 67 acres of disputed land in Ayodhya. The top court said it would tag the matter with the main petition that is being heard by a Constitution bench.
The petition said Parliament has no legislative power to take over property belonging to the state. The Acquisition of Certain Area At Ayodhya Act, 1993, had transferred the disputed premises of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid to the central government.
In January, the Centre had moved an application in the top court, seeking its permission to return all excess acquired land at the site to the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas.