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Ayodhya case: Hearing adjourned after judge recuses himself; new five-judge bench to be constituted

File photo. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Jan 10, 2019, 11.05 AM (IST)

Hearing of the politically sensitive case of Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land title dispute in Ayodhya was adjourned on Thursday after Justice UU Lalit recused himself from the case. 

Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi will constitute a fresh five-judge bench to hear the case. 

No sooner than the bench assembled, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for a Muslim party, told a bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi that Justice Lalit appeared for former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh in 1994.

Singh is currently the Rajasthan Governor.

Though Dhavan said he was not seeking recusal of Justice Lalit, Justice Lalit conveyed to Chief Justice Gogoi and other members of the bench -- Justice SA Bobde, Justice NV Ramana, Justice DY Chandrchud -- of his reluctance to continue on the bench and recused himself. 

Chief Justice Gogoi in his order said that under the Supreme Court rules in exercise of his administrative powers, it was his prerogative to decide the strength of the bench.

He said this while declining the submission by Dhawan that an earlier bench headed by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra had said that a hearing on the batch of petitions will be heard by a three-judge bench.

The court thereafter directed its registry to go through all the records relating to the Ayodhya case which are available with it and submit a report by January 29 as to how much time it would require for translating the documents and the case material which are in Persian, Arabic, Urdu and Gurmukhi languages. 

However, when senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for one of the Hindu litigants, offered to assist the registry in the handling of the papers and their translations, Chief Justice Gogoi said that he will rely entirely on his own registry to do the job. 

Having directed the secretary general of the Supreme Court to submit the report in 15 days the court directed that the reconstituted bench will hold the hearing on January 29. 

The apex court has now finalised January 29 as the next date of hearing.