In a significant development, the Ayodhya hearing on Thursday was adjourned till 29 January soon after Justicwe UU Lalit recused himself from the 5-judge Supreme Court bench. This was after lawyer Rajeev Dhawan pointed out that Justice Lalit had represented Kalyan Singh during whose chief ministers tenure, the Babri Masjid was demolished. Lalit had represented Singh in a contempt case in 1997.
Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said that Justice Lalit expressed the desire to recuse from hearing the matter, as it would not seem appropriate for him to continue in the bench even though the merits of the current case was not relate to contempt case.
A new bench will be constituted on 29 January, said CJI Gogoi, who had constituted 5-judge Supreme Court bench comprising himself and Justices SA Bobde , NV Ramana, UU Lalit and DY Chandrachud.
Explaining his decision to form a constitutional bench, which was ruled out by his predecessor Dipak Misra, CJI Gogoi said that he had done so by invoking the administrative powers of Chief Justice of India as per Supreme Court rules.
Today’s development will be a setback to the BJP, which has been desperately trying for an early hearing of the case in a bid to gain the electoral mileage. Last week, Modi was asked about whether his government will bring in an executive order to build Ram Temple in Ayodhya. He had said, “After judicial process is over, whatever will be our responsibility as the government, we are ready to make all efforts.”