#AyodhyaCase: After one judge recuses, matter adjourned for January 29
The five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi, postponed the hearing of the politically sensitive Ayodhya case on Thursday after Justice UU Lalit recused himself. The matter was adjourned for January 29. The bench constituted of Justice SA Bobde, Justice NV Ramana, Justice UU Lalit and Justice DY Chandrachud. The bench was supposed to decide the frequency of hearings of the long-winding case.
In the court, Dr. Rajeeev Dhavan brought to the court's notice that Justice Lalit had appeared in a related case for Kalyan Singh, the former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. While he said he doesn't have any problem if he is a member of the bench, Justice Lalit recused himself. CJI Gogoi noted a new bench will have to be constituted now.
At the center of this lengthy court battle is a demand to construct a Ram Temple at the disputed land in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. It is believed the 16th-century Babri Masjid was built after razing a temple where Lord Ram took human form. In December 1992, right-wing groups demolished the mosque that sparked widespread Hindu-Muslim riots in the country killing nearly 2,000 people.
In 2010, the Allahabad High Court divided the 2.77 acres of land among the three parties: deity Ram Lalla, Sunni Waqf Board, and Nirmohi Akhada. But none of them were happy with the verdict and approached the apex court. As many as 14 appeals have been filed in the top court against the 2010 verdict. The matter was last taken up on January 4.
UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has been pushing to make Ayodhya a tourist site and has announced relevant schemes for the same. The tallest Lord Ram statue in the temple town is also part of the plan. Last year, Adityanath said at a rally in Lucknow that whenever the temple is constructed, BJP will have an important role in it.
Constructing a temple was a part of BJP's manifesto, however, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an interview on January 1 clarified the party will wait for the judicial process to be over. "After the judicial process is over, whatever will be our responsibility as the government, we are ready to make all efforts," he had said, indicating Centre is not looking for ordinance-route yet.
On the other hand, Muslim stakeholders also want an early resolution. In September last year, the apex court upheld the Ismail Faruqui judgment of 1994 and said mosque is not essential for praying in Islam. "(Mosque) is not an essential part of the practice of the religion of Islam and namaz (prayer) by Muslims can be offered anywhere, even in open," the judgment read.
"We welcome the five-judge bench constituted by Supreme Court. Every citizen of the country is expecting the court to hear the matter. We expect this issue will be settled as soon as possible," said Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahali, a prominent Muslim cleric in Lucknow.