In a 60-second hearing, Supreme Court defers Ayodhya case to January 10

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he Supreme Court has deferred the hearing in Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute case to January 10.

The top court took up a batch of petitions today for hearing. The matter was listed before a bench comprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justice SK Kaul. It came up for hearing around 10.30 am.

The hearing, which continued for 60 seconds, did not see any arguments from either side.

The CJI said a new bench of judges would hear the matter on January 10 — which would be decided in the interim.

“Further orders will be passed by an appropriate bench on January 10 for fixing the date of hearing the matter,” a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice S K Kaul said.

The new bench is likely to constitute three judges for hearing as many as 14 appeals filed against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment. The judgment delivered, in four civil suits, said that the 2.77-acre land be partitioned equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

The Supreme Court, on October 29, had fixed the matter in the first week of January before an “appropriate bench”, which will decide the schedule of hearing.

Later, an application was moved for according an urgent hearing by advancing the date, but the top court refused the plea, saying it had already passed an order relating to the hearing on the matter.

The plea for early hearing was moved by the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha (ABHM), which is one of the respondents in the appeal filed by legal heirs of M Siddiq, one of the original litigants in the case.

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

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had suggested, in his New Year interview, that any decision on an ordinance on the Ram temple matter can happen only after the completion of the legal process.

Modi also clarified his government would not try to run ahead of the ongoing litigation in the Supreme Court, despite a rising chorus from the RSS and saffron organisations for the temple.

Modi’s comments came amidst heightened demands by Hindutva organisations, including the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), for an ordinance for an early construction of the temple.

The matter has also assumed importance in view of the general election next year for which the construction — or not — of the temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya has become an emotive issue for the Bharatiya Janata Party

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