Justice UU Lalit steps down from Ram Temple bench, new bench on Jan 29

Justice UU Lalit, who was part of a constitutional bench that was set up to hear the controversial Ram Temple Babri Masjid matter today, today recused himself from the bench hearing the matter.

The judge withdrew himself after one of the advocates RK Dhawan pointed out that Justice Lalit had represented one of the implicated parties in the case related to the controversy more than 25 years ago.

Justice Lalit had appeared on behalf of BJP leader Kalyan Singh in the Babri Masjid case when he was a practicing advocate.

Today’s five-judge bench, headed by chief justice Ranjan Gogoi, was supposed to set the date for the starting of trial.

With the judge stepping down, Chief Justice Gogoi said a new bench will be formed on January 29.

Gogoi also pointed out that the case is a complicated one and case documents are voluminous enough to fill an entire room.

As it is, the January 29 date did not come as a surprise because the Chief Justice had, in his previous comments, indicated that the first day will be primarily dedicated to deciding formalities such as the schedule of the hearing and so forth.

Some parties involved in the dispute today also raised objections about the translations that have been done for various documents in seven languages.

As a result, the Chief Justice also directed for fresh translations in some cases.

There were also some questions raised about why there were five judges on the the bench, with some asking that there should be only three judges.

However, the demand was denied by the Chief Justice.

Gogoi’s predecessor Dipak Misra had said that the case would be heard by a three-judge bench.

The Ayodhya debate centres around the land known today as Ram Janmabhoomi, on which the Babri Mosque was built in 1528.

In the Ramayana, Ayodhya is the birthplace of the god-king Rama, the son of Dasharatha, the ruler of Ayodhya, and his queen Kausalya.

The first recorded instances of religious violence in Ayodhya occurred in the 1850s over a nearby mosque at Hanuman Garhi.

Since then, Hindu groups made occasional demands that they should have the possession of the site and that they should be allowed to build a temple on the site, all of which were denied by the British colonial government.

The Babri mosque was brought down by Hindu activists in 1992 under the watch of a Congress government at the center.