The Supreme Court will hear the Ayodhya land dispute case on February 26 as Justice SA Bobde, who is a part of five-judge Constitution bench, has returned from leave. Though the bench was scheduled to take up the matter on January 29, the same could not happen due to “non-availability” of Justice S A Bobde that day.
The SC has set up a five-judge Constitution bench – comprising the CJI and Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer – to hear the appeal challenging the September 30, 2010 verdict of the Allahabad High Court. The bench reconstituted after one of the judges on the bench set up earlier this month — Justice U Lalit — recused from hearing it.
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.
The apex court will also hear a petition by seven Lucknow residents, who claimed to be devotees of Lord Ram, challenging the constitutional validity of the 1993 law under which the Centre acquired 67.703 acres of land in Ayodhya.
The petition, challenging The Acquisition of Certain Areas of Ayodhya Act, 1993, contends that the Parliament had no legislative competence to acquire land belonging to the state and that the state legislature had the exclusive power to make provisions relating to the management of affairs of religious institutions inside its territory.
On January 29, the Centre had moved the Supreme Court, seeking permission to return the 67 acres of land in Ayodhya — adjacent to the disputed site — to its original owners, including the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas.