Earlier, Justice UU Lalit had recused himself from the bench.
New Delhi: Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi today reconstituted the five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court that will hear the politically sensitive Ayodhya case next Tuesday by adding two new judges to it. The bench led by the Chief Justice will decide on a schedule and the frequency of hearings in the case. In the last hearing on January 11, Justice UU Lalit had recused himself from the bench saying he had been a lawyer in a related case.
Following are the top 10 developments in this story:
- Justice Abdul Nazeer and Justice Ashok Bhushan, the two judges have been added today, were part of an earlier three-judge bench in the Ayodhya case when it was headed by the then Chief Justice Dipak Misra.
- The other judges on the Constitution Bench are Justice SA Bobde and Justice DY Chandrachud.
- Justice NV Ramana, who was a part of the bench which last heard the matter on January 10, is not a member in the new bench.
- Justice Lalit had recused himself from the bench saying he had appeared as a lawyer for former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh in a connected case "sometime in the year 1997".
- 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.
- Members of the ruling BJP, some of its allies and right-wing groups want a special executive order or ordinance to enable the start of construction before the general elections are announced.
- Last year, the Supreme Court refused an early hearing in the case. If the Supreme Court, however, decides on daily or frequent hearings in the case, it will be seen as a shot in the arm for those demanding a resolution to the issue before the Lok Sabha polls.
- 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.
- Muslim stakeholders in the case say an early resolution is what they want too.
- 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. As many as 14 appeals have been filed in the Supreme Court against the Allahabad High Court judgement.
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