New Delhi: The much awaited hearing on a batch of cross petitions challenging the 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict trifurcating the disputed site scheduled for January 29 will not take place due to the non-availability of Justice S.A. Bobde — one of the five judges in the reconstituted bench.
A notification issued on Sunday by the top court registry said that due to non-availability of Justice S.A. Bobde on January 29, 2019, the sitting of the constitution bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice S. A. Bobde, Justice D. Y. Chandrachud, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer “stands canceled”.
“…the constitution bench matter will not be taken up for hearing on January 29,” said the notice by the top court registry put on its website.
The top court had on January 25 reconstituted the five-judge bench as Justice Uday Umesh Lalit recused himself from hearing the matter after it was pointed out by senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan that he had earlier way back in 1997 as a lawyer appeared for former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh in a Babri Masjid-related matter.
Kalyan Singh is at present the Governor of Rajasthan.
Besides Justice Lalit, the new bench did not have Justice N.V. Ramana. The original bench had Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice S.A. Bobde, Justice N.V. Ramana, Justice Lalit and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud.
Both Justice Bhushan and Justice Nazeer were on the three-judge bench headed by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra that had on September 27 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.
Referring the matter to a three-judge bench, Justice Bhushan also speaking for then Chief Justice Misra had said that “we are of the considered opinion that no case has been made out to refer the constitution bench judgment of this court in Ismail Faruqui case for reconsideration”, which had said that mosque was not essential to Islam for offering namaz.
However, in his dissenting judgment, Justice Abdul Nazeer had said that the judgement in the 1994 Ismail Faruqui case needed reconsideration and the matter should be referred to a larger constitution bench.
Justice Nazeer had also said that whether mosque was an essential part of Islam for offering namaz was to be decided considering the religious beliefs and requires detailed consideration.
The Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court by its 2010 judgment, now under challenge, had divided the disputed site in three parts giving one each to Lord Ram Lala, Nirmohi Akhara and original Muslim litigant.