Day 15 Arguments

Ayodhya Title Dispute

January 10th 2019

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. UU Lalit J 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 January 8th 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 September 27th judgment was ruling on the limited question of whether the Court ought to revisit the 1994 Ismail Faruqui judgment.


Today, a Bench comprising CJI Ranjan Gogoi, SA Bobde,  NV Ramana, UU Lalit and DY Chandrachud JJ heard the matter. They fixed limited themselves to fixing the schedule for the hearings.


CJI 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 UU Lalit J 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 UU Lalit J retaining his seat on the Bench.


UU Lalit J recused himself.


CJI Gogoi dictated the following order:

  • The case will be heard on January 29th by a new Constitution Bench
  • The Registry is directed to engage official translators and submit a report regarding the correctness of translated submissions from the Allahabad High Court hearings (recall that the current Supreme Court case is an appeal of a 2011 Allahabad High Court judgment)


The next hearing is on January 29th 2019, where a fresh Constitution Bench will hear the case.

(Court reporting by Disha Chaudhry)