The Supreme Court on Thursday fixed January 29 as the next date of hearing in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute matter after Justice UU Lalit recused himself from hearing the case. A new bench will now be constituted.
A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, and comprising of Justice SA Bobde, Justice NV Ramana, Justice UU Lalit and Justice DY Chandrachud, at the outset said that there will be no hearing in the case on Thursday adding that only date and schedule will be decided.
However, Dhavan said that he was not requesting that Justice Lalit should recuse himself from hearing the case but was only bringing it to the notice of the apex court.
"I am bringing it to Your Lordships' notice though we don't have objection to him hearing the matter. It is entirely up to your lordships," said Dhavan.
Dhavan also pointed out there were speculations as to what led to the setting up of a Constitution bench as a three-judge bench had on September 27 declined the same request.
The bench in its order said that there are 120 issues framed by the Allahabad High Court, 88 witnesses, testimonies running into 13,886 pages, 257 other documents, High Court judgment into 4,304 printed pages and 8,533 typed pages, and original records lying in 15 sealed trunks in a locked room.
The Supreme Court asked its registry to give a report on by January 29 when all the documents will be translated into English from Persian, Sanskrit, Arabic, Gurmukhi, Urdu and Hindi.
"The Muslim side has been trying since the beginning to defer the case. There are more than 8,000 pages to be translated which I feel is not possible to do before January 29. It feels like the case will be deferred to another date in the next hearing," said Barun Sinha, a lawyer for the Akhil Bhartiya Mahasabha.
The case has been pending before the apex court for last eight years. Parties in the case and various right-wing organisations have been asking for an early or day-to-day hearing for a long time. Last year, the top court had refused to grant an urgent hearing, saying the court had "other priorities" and posted the matter for hearing in the first week of January this year before the "appropriate bench".
On the one hand, the Hindu Mahasabha's lawyer Vishnu Shankar Jain said: "Muslim parties want to take up the matter in their own way. Now a new bench will be formed to hear the matter again on January 29".
Sunni Waqf Board's advocate Anoop George pointed out, "The court will have to examine whether it is in the position to hear the case or not. The Constitution Bench is going to hear the matter. It has to see whether all the translations are complete".
Two days back, Chief Justice Gogoi had set up a Constitution bench to hear the Ayodhya matter. However, former Chief Justice Dipak Misra had refused to refer the matter to the Constitution Bench and had said that the apex court would hear the issue purely as a "land dispute".
There are as many as 14 appeals pending in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgement, delivered in four civil suits. The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court in its September 30, 2010, verdict ordered that the disputed site be divided into three parts -- one for deity (Ramlala Virajmaan), another for Nirmohi Akhara - a Hindu sect and a third one, to the original litigant in the case for the Muslims.
Despite pressure from the NDA ally Shiv Sena and various other groups, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his interview to ANI last week had said that the central government is waiting for a legal resolution in the matter.
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