New Delhi, Jan 25 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Friday reconstituted the five-judge bench to hear a batch of petitions challenging the 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict trifurcating the disputed site into three parts and giving one each to Nirmohi Akhara, Ram Lala and the original Muslim litigant.
The newly constituted bench comprises Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice S. A. Bobde, Justice D. Y. Chandrachud, Justice Ashok Bhushan, and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer.
The formation of the new bench came as Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, who was previously in the constitution bench on Ayodhya-related matter, recused himslef from hearing after it was pointed out he had appeared for former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh in an Ayodhya-related matter in 1997.
Kalyan Singh is currently Governor of Rajasthan.
Besides Justice Lalit, the new bench does not have Justice N.V. Ramana who was in the previous bench, perceived to be consisting of judges who would be future chief justices of India.
Both Justice Bhushan and Justice Nazeer were on the three-judge bench headed by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra. It had by a majority of 2:1 declined one of the Muslim petitioners’ plea that the challenge to the High Court judgment on the title suit be heard by a five-judge constitution bench.
It was contended that the High Court had relied on a 1994 top court judgment, also by a five-judge bench, that mosque is not integral to Islam for offering ‘namaz’. The majority judgement said the observation that mosque was not integral to Islam for offering prayers was in a different context and had no bearing on the title suit.
However, Justice Nazeer had favoured the hearing of the matter by a larger bench for the determination of the issue.
The top court in the last hearing on January 10 had directed its registry to “physically inspect the records which are lying under its lock and key, and make an assessment of the time that will be taken to make the case ready for hearing by engaging, if required, official translators and give the report to the court.