New Delhi, January 27: In a significant development, the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute case will not be taken up for hearing by 5-judge constitution bench of Supreme Court on January 29 due to the non-availability of Justice SA Bobde.

Earlier on January 25, Justices Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer, who were part of an earlier 3-judge bench were selected to be on the newly constituted 5-judge bench in the case.

Both the judges were part of the 3-judge bench, then headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra (now retired), which had by 2:1 majority verdict refused to refer to a larger bench the question as to whether the mosque is integral to offering prayers in Islam. Justice Nazeer had delivered a minority judgement.

The bench had on September 27 last year refused 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.

A 5-judge Constitution Bench was eventually set up on January 8 this year, but Justices Bhushan and Nazeer were not part of it.

The matter came up for hearing on January 10. However, after Justice U U Lalit’s recusal from hearing the matter, a new five-judge bench has been reconstituted in which both the judges have made a comeback.

The new bench announced it will be headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi and also comprise Justices S A Bobde and D Y Chandrachud.

Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgement, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land is partitioned equally among three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

In the last September verdict of 2:1, the then bench headed by Justice Misra (since retired) had said the civil suit has to be decided on the basis of evidence, adding that the previous verdict has no relevance on this issue.

Justice Bhushan, who read out the judgement for himself and the CJI, had said it has to find out the context in which the five-judge had delivered the 1994 judgement.

Justice Nazeer had disagreed with the two judges and said whether the mosque is integral to Islam has to be decided considering religious belief which requires detailed consideration.




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