Today in a short 15 minute hearing, the Supreme Court ordered a new Constitution Bench (different from the one formed on 8th Jan) to hear the case on 29th January 2019. Justice UU Lalit recused himself.
Previously, on 8th January, the Supreme Court issued an administrative notice, announcing that the Ayodhya Title Dispute would be heard by a Constitution Bench. CJI Gogoi used his administrative powers as the Master of the Roster to re-assign the case to a 5-judge Constitution Bench. Prior to the 8th January notice, the case was set to be heard by 3-judge Bench.
In effect, CJI Gogoi undid the Supreme Court's 27th September judgment, where a Bench led by retired CJI Dipak Misra ruled that the matter will not be referred to a 5-judge Constitution Bench. Note that the 27th September judgment was ruling on the limited question of whether the Court ought to revisit the 1994 Ismail Faruqui judgment.
Today, a Bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice SA Bobde, Justice NV Ramana, Justice UU Lalit and Justice DY Chandrachud heard the matter. They fixed limited themselves to fixing the schedule for the hearings.
Chief Justice Gogoi explained that he had formed the five-judge Constitution Bench using his administrative powers, according to the Supreme Court Rules, 2013.
Rajeev Dhavan highlighted that Justice UU Lalit had appeared as a lawyer for Kalyan Singh in a criminal case related to the dispute. Rajeev Dhavan emphasised that he had no objections to Justice UU Lalit retaining his seat on the Bench.
Justice UU Lalit recused himself.
Chief Justice Gogoi dictated the following order:
The next hearing is on 29th January 2019, where a fresh Constitution Bench will hear the case.