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CJI Gogoi reconstitutes five-member Ayodhya bench with two new judges  

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Friday reconstituted the five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court that is to hear the Ayodhya land dispute case.

SNS | New Delhi |

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Friday reconstituted the five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court that is to hear the Ayodhya land dispute case. The CJI added the names of Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice Abdul Nazeer to the bench.

The reconstitution of the bench was necessitated after Justice UU Lalit recused himself on 10 January after the apex court was told that he had in 1997 appeared as a lawyer for former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh in one of the matters related to the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute.

Besides Justice Bhushan and Justice Nazeer, the new bench now comprises CJI Gogoi, Justice SA Bobde and Justice DY Chandrachud.

Justice NV Ramana, who was part of the previous bench, is not a member of the new bench.

Both Justice Bhushan and Justice Nazeer were part of the bench headed by former Chief Justice Dipak Misra that heard the matter in September 2018.

The new bench will hear the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case  on 29 January.

In the hearing on 10 January, senior counsel Rajeev Dhawan, appearing for one of the Muslim parties, told the court that he personally has no objection to the presence of Justice Lalit on the bench and was just bringing the issue related to Kalyan Singh – who is now the Governor of Rajasthan – to the notice of the court.

Read More: SC to form new bench as Justice Lalit recuses, hear Ayodhya case on 29 Jan

Subsequently, Justice Lalit recused himself from the hearing informing the bench of his reluctance to continue.

On 27 September last year, a three-judge bench of the top court by 2:1 majority refused to refer to a five-judge Constitution bench reconsideration of the observations in its 1994 judgement that a mosque was not integral to Islam. The matter arose during the hearing of the Ayodhya land dispute.

The apex court on 29 October last year fixed the matter in the first week of January before the “appropriate bench”.

When the matter was last taken up on 4 January, there was no indication that the case would be referred to a Constitution bench as the apex court had simply said further orders in the matter would be passed on 10 January by “the appropriate bench, as may be constituted”.