The bench will also hear a plea by the centre to return to its original owners excess land of 67.7 acres in Ayodhya
The bench was to hear the issue on 29 January but this was postponed as Justice Bobde was on leave that day
New Delhi: Constitution bench of the Supreme Court will start hearing the dispute over the ownership of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land on 26 February. The bench will also hear a petition by the centre to return to its original owners excess land of 67.7 acres acquired around the site.
The case has been on the back-burner despite attempts by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy, an intervener in the case, to get an early hearing.
A Constitution bench comprising Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S.A. Bobde, D.Y. Chandrachud, N.V. Ramana, and U.U. Lalit was set up on 8 January to hear the issue. However, a fresh Constitution bench of Chief Justice Gogoi and Justices Bobde, Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan, and S. Abdul Nazeer, was formed after Justice Lalit recused himself.
The bench was to hear the issue on 29 January but this was postponed as Justice Bobde was on leave that day.
Fourteen appeals have been filed before the apex court against a 2010 Allahabad high court order mandating a three-way division of the disputed 2.77 acres among the Sunni Wakf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla (infant Lord Ram), represented by the Hindu Mahasabha.
The Ayodhya issue will play a key role in the BJP winning the Lok Sabha elections to be held by May. As such, the government at the centre, which is led by the party, has sought modification of the March 2003 Supreme Court order that had directed status quo over the excess land.
Meanwhile, a plea challenging the constitutional validity of the Acquisition of Certain Area At Ayodhya Act, 1993, on the basis of which the centre had acquired 67.7 acres adjacent to the disputed site, has also been filed in the SC. It is yet to be taken up for hearing.
The Shia Central Waqf Board of Uttar Pradesh had told the apex court in August 2018 that it was amenable to building a mosque in a Muslim-dominated area at a reasonable distance from the disputed site.