THE HEARING in the Supreme Court on the Ayodhya case scheduled Tuesday has been “cancelled” due to the “non-availability” of Justice S A Bobde, one of the judges on the Constitution Bench that has been set up for the matter.
“Take notice that due to non-availability of Hon’ble Mr. Justice S. A. Bobde on 29.01.2019 (Tuesday), sitting of Constitution Bench in Hon’ble Chief Justice’s Court, comprising Hon’ble the Chief Justice, Mr Justice S. A. Bobde, Hon’ble Justice Dr D. Y. Chandrachud, Hon’ble Mr Justice Ashok Bhushan and Hon’ble Mr Justice S. Abdul Nazeer stands cancelled. Therefore, Constitution Bench matter will not be taken up for hearing,” a Supreme Court notice said Sunday.
The development comes two days after Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi reconstituted the bench that was to hear the case — after one of the judges on the bench set up earlier this month, Justice U Lalit, recused from hearing it — and fixed January 29 to take up the matter.
On January 8, CJI Gogoi had first constituted a five-judge bench comprising himself and Justices Bobde, Lalit, Chandrachud and N V Ramana to hear the appeals challenging the September 30, 2010, verdict of the Allahabad High Court.
The High Court had ordered a three-way division of the disputed 2.77 acres of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site between the Nirmohi Akhara sect, the Sunni Central Wakf Board, Uttar Pradesh and Ramlalla Virajman.
This bench sat on January 10 to fix the schedule for hearing. But it could not proceed further after Senior Counsel Rajeev Dhavan, representing a party supporting the Babri mosque, pointed out that Justice Lalit had earlier appeared as counsel for BJP leader Kalyan Singh in a contempt matter related to the demolition in 1997. Singh was UP CM when the disputed structure was demolished.
Following this, Justice Lalit decided to recuse himself and the CJI adjourned the matter “to another date…to fix a date of hearing and to draw up a time schedule for hearing of the case”.
On January 25, the CJI reconstituted the bench with the inclusion of Justices Bhushan and Nazeer in place of Justices Lalit and Ramana. It was also announced that the matter will be taken up at 10.30 am on January 29. Justices Bhushan and Nazeer were part of a three-judge bench along with the then CJI Dipak Misra which took up the case last year.