The Supreme Court Sunday further delayed the hearing of Ram Janmbhoomi case, stating that the matter won’t be taken up on January 29 due to the non-availability of Justice S A Bobde.
The apex court had on Friday reconstituted the five-judge bench hearing the dispute by including Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice Abdul Nazeer in the case along with Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi. Besides the trio, Justices S A Bobde and D Y Chandrachud were also supposed to hear the matter. Justice N V Ramana, who was earlier a part of the bench, was excluded from the bench.
The move came nearly two weeks after Justice U U Lalit recused himself from the case, since he had appeared as a lawyer in an Ayodhya-related matter in the past. Justice Lalit decided to recuse after senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, representing one of the parties in appeal, pointed out that the judge had appeared as a counsel for BJP leader Kalyan Singh, who was chief minister of Uttar Pradesh when the Babri Masjid was demolished, in a contempt matter related to the demolition in 1997.
The court was to hear appeals challenging the September 30, 2010 verdict of the Allahabad High Court that ordered a three-way division of the disputed 2.77 acres in Ayodhya between the Nirmohi Akhara sect, the Sunni Central Wakf Board, Uttar Pradesh and Ramlalla Virajman.
Last year, Justices Bhushan and Nazeer were part of the bench with then CJI Misra but could not start hearing the main Ayodhya petition as it had to first rule on a plea by Dhavan to refer the Supreme Court’s 1994 ruling in the M Ismail Faruqui and Others vs Union of India case to a Constitution Bench.
On September 27 last year, the bench, in a 2-1 verdict, rejected Dhavan’s plea. While CJI Misra and Justice Bhushan rejected the demand, Justice Nazeer dissented.