CJI Reconstitutes Ayodhya Bench: Justices Ashok Bhushan And Nazeer To Replace Justices Ramana And Lalit
The Chief Justice of India has reconstituted the constitutional bench hearing Ayodhya case by replacing Justices UU Lalit and NV Ramana with Justices Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer.
Now the bench comprising CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer will hear the matter on 29th January 2019.
Earlier this month, CJI had constituted Constitution Bench to hear the Ayodhya Land Dispute Case. Interestingly, the bench comprised of 4 probable future Chief Justices Of India.
Setting up of the Constitution bench had surprised many because the popular expectation was that a three-judge bench will be constituted. Later, CJI clarified (during hearing on 10th January 2019) that the decision to set up the constitution bench has been taken by him on the administrative side in exercise of his powers under Order 6 Rule 1 of the Supreme Court Rules, 2013.
But a dramatic twist happened when Rajeev Dhawan, Senior Advocate appearing for Sunni Waqf Board that Justice UU Lalit had appeared for former UP Chief Minister Kalyan Singh in a contempt matter related to Babri Masjid case. Following this submission, Justice Lalit expressed that he was recusing from hearing the matter. The case was then adjourned to 29th January.
On 27th September 2018, a three judge bench comprising former CJI Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer, by 2:1 majority, had refused to refer to a five-judge constitution bench for reconsideration of the observations in its 1994 Ismail Farooqi judgement that a mosque was not integral to Islam .