After Justice U U Lalit recused himself from the five-judge Constitution Bench set up to hear the Ayodhya title dispute appeals, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Thursday said the objections raised were “frivolous” and “ploys to delay” the matter further.
Justice Lalit decided to recuse after senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, representing one of the parties in the matter, pointed out that the judge had appeared as 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. Dhavan also questioned the CJI’s decision to constitute a five-judge bench to hear the matter by way of an administrative order.
VHP working president Alok Kumar said, “Hearing of Ram Janmabhoomi appeals has been adjourned yet again. The objection that a judicial order should have been passed for constitution of a five-judge bench is apparently frivolous, for it is settled that the Hon’ble Chief Justice is the master of roster. He alone decides the strength of a bench and the judges to sit in it.”
He added, “The other objection on Justice U U Lalit being on the bench is painful. Justice Lalit has never appeared in the Ram Janmabhoomi matters; neither at the trial stage nor in the appeal. His being counsel of Shri Kalyan Singh in 1997 in the contempt matter casts no shadow on his hearing the present appeals. The objections were merely ploys to delay further.”
Kumar said that in the circumstances, an adjournment from January 10 to January 29 was rather long.