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Upananda Brahmachari | HENB | New Delhi | Jan 9, 2019:: In a surprise development, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi decided on Tuesday to put the decades old socially and politically sensitive Ayodhya land dispute and related matters out of Ramjanmabhoomi Temple-Babri Mosque conflict for hearing before a five judge constitution bench on and from January 10, virtually overturning the SC’s September 27 judgment assigning adjudication of the vexed issue to a three judge bench. Though the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri case in the court of law had its Judicial battle record in the British rule and started in early 1950 in the court in Independent India, the dispute is now pending in the Supreme Court since the last 8 years.
Interestingly, the CJI appears to have chosen the members of the bench carefully for it is headed by him and comprises four judges — Justices S A Bobde (assumes to hold CJI’s office on Nov 18, 2019), N V Ramana (assumes CJI on Apr 24, 2021), U U Lalit (assumes CJI on Aug 27, 2022) and D Y Chandrachud (assumes CJI on Nov 9, 2022) — who, in that order, are in line to be CJIs. The first hearing by the new five judge bench is scheduled for Thursday.
From a part of concerned parties and media a question has been raised whether the CJI have gone beyond the September 27 judgment by a three judge bench   — then CJI Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer — turning down Muslim parties who had argued for the Ayodhya matter to be referred to either a five judge or seven judge bench on the ground that the temple mosque dispute is considered to be the most important case in the history of the nation?
Actually, September 27 judgment by a three judge bench was pronounced in the context of 1994 Ismail Faruqui judgment whether the acquisition of 67.703 acres of land by the Central Govt in and around Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid was valid and whether Mosque is an essential or immovable part of the practice of the religion of Islam. So, the negation for constituting a five judge bench to refer the matter for ‘acquisition of 67.703 acres of land’ and ‘status of a mosque as an essential apart of Islam’ is quiet unrelated with the present Ayodhya title suit pending in the Supreme Court of India in the context of the Judgement of Allahabad High Court passed on Sep 30, 2010. The designated Division Bench of Allahabad HC then ruled three-way division of disputed area between Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara & Ram Lalla in a 2:1 majority.
Hence, constituting a five judge bench to hear and expedite the present pending title suit on Ayodhya matter has no connection to violate any earlier direction of verdict of Supreme court, rather it prompts the action of the Judiciary to dispose a most sensational matter pending in court of law over 70 years.
Supreme Court Rules, 2013 do empower the CJI to exercise his discretion. Order VI, Rule 1 says: “Subject to the other provisions of these rules every cause, appeal or matter shall be heard by a bench consisting of not less than two judges nominated by the Chief Justice.” SC sources said the stipulation — “not less than two judges” — gives plenary administrative power to the CJI to refer a matter to either a two-judge, a three-judge, a five-judge or even a larger bench depending on the importance of the issue involved.
So, the present CJI assumed a larger importance on pending Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri matter and constituted a five judge bench to hear and settle the Ayodhya tile suit.
The formation of the present five judge bench on Ayodhya matter, without keeping any member from the Minority Community (read Muslim Ummah) in a matter where interest of the minority community is involved, has a clear sign to assert that Indian Judiciary is capable enough to deliver justice to all its people through any set of Judges without thinking majority-minority community split.
The Nation is now waiting for the adjudication, speedy hearing and the final judgement of Ayodhya matter to clear all hurdles to start the construction of Ram Temple at Ramjanmabhoomi to fulfill dream of 1 billion Hindus of the world so that Lord Ramlala can be housed in a beautiful and magnificent temple, ending his exile in a tent house since 6th Dec 1992.
__inputs from TOI.
__courtesy to links and pics used above.