Ayodhya dispute: No hearing in SC as Constitution bench judge unavailable

New Delhi: The hearing in the politically sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case could not take place in the Supreme Court on Monday due to unavailability of one of the five judges of the Constitution bench.

The Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was scheduled to hear arguments of senior lawyer C S Vaidyanathan, representing deity 'Ram Lalla Virajman', for the eighth day. Minutes before the commencement of the hearing, lawyers on both sides were told by the court staff that Justice S A Bobde was unavailable on Monday.

Besides CJI and Justice Bobde, justices D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer are part of the bench which is hearing the appeal in the case. On Friday, Vaidyanathan had told the court that a "massive" temple of Lord Ram, dating back to the second century BC (Before Christ), existed at the disputed site in Ayodhya before the construction of Babri Masjid.

Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre disputed land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties -- the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and 'Ram Lalla Virajman'. Babri Masjid was demolished by right-wing activists on December 6, 1992 in Ayodhya, leading to the protracted legal battle.

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