Ayodhya appeals listed for new SC Bench tomorrow

The Ayodhya title suit appeals are scheduled for hearing on October 29 before a completely new Supreme Court Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. The appeals are listed for Monday under the head “directions matter” before a new composition of judges, who, besides the CJI, are his regular companion judges, Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K.M. Joseph. It is not clear what nature of “directions” the new Bench would pass. The Ayodhya appeals were so far heard by the three-judge Bench of the previous Chief Justice, Dipak Misra, and Justices Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer. Majority opinion On September 27, the Misra Bench, in a majority opinion of 2:1, decided against referring a question of law — whether offering prayers in a mosque is an essential practice of Islam — which arose in the Ayodhya appeals hearings to a Constitution Bench. The majority opinion, authored by Justice Bhushan and supported by Justice Misra, had ordered the Ayodhya appeals “which are awaiting consideration by this Court for quite a long period, to be now listed in week commencing 29th October, 2018 for hearing”. Usually, this would entail the appeals returning to the Bench comprising Justices Bhushan, Nazeer and a new third judge, replacing Justice Misra, who retired on October 2. However, the appeals have been posted on Monday before a Bench which neither Justice Bhushan nor Justice Nazeer are a part of. Nevertheless, experts say that not much ground had anyway been covered by the earlier Misra Bench on the appeals. The hearings had got deflected on the question of reference to a Constitution Bench. Unusual decision Experts also point out that it was rather unusual for Justice Bhushan, a puisne judge on the Bench, to fix the date of hearing of the appeals as October 29. They say it should have been ideally left to Chief Justice Gogoi, as the master of roster, to decide the next date of hearing. September 27 had also witnessed the stinging dissent penned by Justice Nazeer, who observed in a separate opinion that the question of what is essential or not in a religion cannot be hastily decided. He held that the question raised on the essentiality of offering prayers in mosques should indeed be examined by a seven-judge Bench, before the Ayodhya suit appeals are heard further. He had concluded that questions raised during the Ayodhya appeals hearing about the comment made in the Ismail Faruqui judgment of 1994 require a “comprehensive examination” by a seven-judge Bench.

Source  :  https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/ayodhya-appeals-listed-for-new-sc-bench-tomorrow/article25350257.ece

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