New Delhi: A five-judge Constitution bench will hear on January 10 the politically-sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land title dispute case, reported news agency ANI. The five-judge bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi wil also comprise Justice SA Bobde, Justice NV Ramana, Justice UU Lalit and Justice DY Chandrachud.
On January 4, the top court had said that an “appropriate bench” will on January 10 fix the date of hearing in the case. The hearing did not even last 30 seconds and senior advocates Harish Salve and Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for different parties, did not even get the opportunity to make any submission.
Now, the five-judge bench will take forward the Ayodhya land dispute case in which as many as 14 appeals were filed against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgement, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land be partitioned equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
The apex court on October 29 had fixed the matter in the first week of January before the “appropriate bench”.
Later, an application was moved for according an urgent hearing by advancing the date, but the top court had refused the plea, saying it had already passed an order on October 29 relating to the hearing of the matter.
The plea for early hearing was moved by the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha (ABHM) which is one of the respondents in the appeal filed by legal heirs of M Siddiq, one of the original litigants in the case.
A three-judge bench of the top court had on September 27 last year, by 2:1 majority, refused to refer to a five-judge constitution bench the issue of reconsideration of the observations in its 1994 judgement that a mosque was not integral to Islam. The matter had arisen during the hearing of the Ayodhya land dispute.
Various Hindutva organisations have been demanding an ordinance on early construction of Ram temple at the disputed site.
The hearing on Friday assumed importance as Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday had suggested any decision on an ordinance on Ram temple in Ayodhya can happen only after the completion of the judicial process.
Modi’s comments had come amidst heightened demands by Hindutava organisations, including the RSS, for an ordinance for an early construction of the temple.
“Let the judicial process take its own course. Don’t weigh it in political terms. Let the judicial process be over. After the judicial process is over, whatever be our responsibility as government, we are ready to make all efforts,” the prime minister had said during an interview, broadcast by several TV channels.