SC rejects plea for Constitution Bench on Ayodhya dispute

NEW DELHI: By a majority 2-1 judgement that could hasten the process of hearing in the vexed Ramjanambhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, the Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a plea for referring the issue to a larger Constitution Bench and referred the case to a three-judge bench to be set up that will begin hearing from October 29.
“We are of the considered opinion that no case has been made out to refer the Constitution Bench judgment of this court in Ismail Faruqui case for reconsideration,” said Justice Ashok Bhushan, reading the judgement on behalf of himself and Chief Justice Dipak Misra, who headed Thursday’s three-judge bench.
The bench was giving its verdict on petitions by some Muslims who had pleaded that the 2010 judgment of the Allahabad High Court splitting the title dispute into three parts be heard by a Constitution Bench as it involved reconsideration of a 1994 ruling by a five-judge bench of the apex court which had held that mosque was not an essential part of Islam to offer namaz.
Thursday’s order assumes significance in view of the fact that a possible early judgment in the case could have implications in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as the Ayodhya dispute has been a major electoral issue in the last over 30 years.
The petitioners had contended that while deciding the title suit in 2010, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court had referred to the observations made in the 1994 judgment by the five-judge bench. However, in a dissenting ruling, Justice Abdul Nazeer said the judgment in the 1994 Ismail Faruqui case needed reconsideration and the matter should be referred to a larger Constitution bench.
The majority judgement on Thursday held that a newly constituted bench will commence hearing from October 29 on a batch of petitions filed by both the sides — Hindu and Muslim stakeholders — challenging the 2010 judgment trifurcating the disputed site into three parts for Ram Lalla, Nirmohi Akhara and the original Muslim litigant.
“To conclude, we again make it clear that questionable observations made in Ismail Faruqui’s case as noted above were made in context of land acquisition. Those observations were neither relevant for deciding the suits nor relevant for deciding these appeals,” Justice Bhushan said.
“The issues, which have arisen in these appeals (Ramjanambhoomi-Babri Masjid) are no doubt important issues, which have to be heard and decided in these appeals. Normally appeals arising out of suits are placed before a bench of two judges but looking to the importance of the matter, the present appeals have already been placed before three-judge bench. — IANS