Lawyers Express Surprise On CJI's Decision Constituting 5 Judge Bench To Hear Ayodhya Case

Lawyers Express Surprise On CJIs Decision Constituting 5 Judge Bench To Hear Ayodhya Case

Lawyers appearing in Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land title dispute case in Ayodhya expressed surprise Tuesday over the Supreme Court setting up five-judge constitution bench to hear the politically sensitive matter.

Advocates appearing for all parties in the matter said they had no indication that the issue would be referred to the constitution bench.

Two senior advocates said on the condition of anonymity that "everyone was expecting that a three-judge bench will be constituted".

"I don't think anybody had the inkling that a five-judge bench will be set up," said one of them.

Echoing same view, advocate Ezaz Maqbool, who represents the first petitioner M Siddiq and some Muslim bodies, said he came to know about the setting up of the five-judge bench when he was called by the apex court registry to place two more sets of paper books of the matter.

"We came to know in the evening when the apex court registry asked us to provide to more sets of papper books on the matter," he said.

Maqbool however said: "We always wanted a five-judge constitution bench because the Ismail Farooqui case was wrongly decided."

Further, he said the dispute needs to be decided by the five-judge as it has "huge national ramifiation".

A senior advocate, appearing for a Hindu organisation said: "Let us see what happens. I would not like to make any further comment."

A three-judge bench of the top court had on September 27 last year, by 2:1 majority, refused to refer to a five-judge constitution bench for reconsideration of the observations in its 1994 Ismail Farooqui judgement that a mosque was not integral to Islam. The matter had arisen during the hearing of the Ayodhya land dispute.

The Constitution Bench is scheduled to hear the matter on January 10..

(This story has not been edited by LiveLaw and is from PTI feed)