The Ayodhya case hearing was adjourned today after Judge UU Lalit leaves the hearing saying he was a lawyer in a related case earlier. A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, was hearing the Ayodhya temple-mosque case today. It was expected to take a call on the frequency of hearings in the case. The four other judges on the Constitution Bench are Justice SA Bobde, Justice NV Ramana, Justice UU Lalit and Justice DY Chandrachud. The decision on the title suit, pending for six decades and at the heart of India's most politically divisive row, comes amid demands to speed up the plan to build a Ram temple at the site where the 16th-century Babri mosque stood before it was razed by Hindu right wing activists in 1992.
National Commission for Minorities chairperson Syed Ghayorul Hasan Rizvi said that no hinderance should be created in the hearing of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land title dispute in the Supreme Court, saying the earliest resolution of it will benefit both Hindus and Muslims
Another bench will have to constituted for fixing a date and hearing. The decision to constitute a bench was done by the Chief Justice on its administrative powers.
In October, the Supreme Court rejected the Uttar Pradesh government's appeal for an early hearing of the 14 petitions in the case. "We have our own priorities. Whether hearing would take place in January, March or April would be decided by an appropriate bench," the court said.
The dispute in Ayodhya is over 2.7 acres of land on which the Babri Masjid stood before it was demolished on December 6, 1992. In 2010, the Allahabad High Court allotted two-thirds of the land to the Hindus and one third to the Sunni Waqf Board. Both Hindu and Muslim organisations appealed against it in the Supreme Court, which in 2011, stayed the High Court order.
Muslim stakeholders in the case say an early resolution is what they want too. "We welcome the five-judge bench constituted by Supreme Court. Every citizen of the country is expecting the court to hear the matter for its final verdict. We expect this issue will be settled as soon as possible," said Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahali, a prominent Muslim cleric in Lucknow.
In an interview to news agency ANI at the start of the year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made it clear that any decision on passing an executive order on the Ram temple issue cannot be made unless the judicial process is over.
BREAKING: The case has been adjourned to a different date after judge UU Lalit exits case saying he had been an advocate in a related matter.
Here are the updates from the court:
Advocate Rajiv Dhavan raising the issue of Justice UU Lalit.
Judges are conferring among themselves and arguments are continuing in the issue.
No hearing in the Ayodhya case today, only date and schedule to be decided, reports news agency ANI.
For the BJP, early hearing in the case would mean good news politically. In the last two years that the party has been in power in Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu priest as well, has made Ayodhya a showcase when it comes to development and tourism projects. Part of the plan is to build a massive Ram statue in the temple town that will be the world's tallest. The BJP hopes these moves will attract votes in the general elections, especially from those among the majority Hindus who believe that a Ram temple should be constructed in Ayodhya at the earliest.
Visuals of security outside the Supreme Court ahead of Ayodhya Hearing by a five-judge Constitution bench: