NEW DELHI: Justice U U Lalit, who was part of a five-judge Constitution Bench to hear the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land title dispute matter, Thursday recused himself, prompting the Supreme Court to reschedule the hearing on January 29 by setting up a fresh bench.

No sooner than the bench assembled, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for a Muslim party, told a bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi that Justice Lalit appeared for former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh in 1994.

Though Dhavan said he was not seeking recusal of Justice Lalit, the judge himself opted out the hearing the matter.

Live: Ayodhya land dispute

Following Justice Lalit’s decision, CJI Ranjan Gogoi said the hearing therefore had to be postponed.

“Since Justice Lalit does not want to take part in any further, the case hearing stands adjourned to January 29 when the five-judge bench will be reconstituted by substituting Justice Lalit with another Supreme Court judge”, the chief justice said.

The apex court had turned into a fortress ahead of Ayodhya land dispute hearing by a five-judge bench of CJI Ranjan Gogoi, and Justices S A Bobde, N V Ramana, U U Lalit and D Y Chandrachud.

The bench was expected to decide the frequency of hearings in the case that has been pending in the apex court since last eight years.

Two days back, Chief Justice Gogoi had constituted a Constitution bench to hear the Ayodhya matter.

There are as many as 14 appeals pending in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgement, delivered in four civil suits. The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court in its September 30, 2010, verdict ordered that the disputed site be divided into three parts–one for deity (Ramlala Virajmaan), another for Nirmohi Akhara—a Hindu sect, and third to the original litigant in the case for the Muslims.

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