NEW DELHI : Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Friday set up a new Constitution bench to hear the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land title case on 29 January.

The new bench, which was set up after justice U.U. Lalit recused himself on 10 January as he had appeared as a lawyer in a related matter in 1997, comprises Gogoi and justices S.A. Bobde, D.Y. Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer.

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan, who appeared for some Muslim parties in the title dispute, had told the court that justice Lalit had represented former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh in a 1997 case and that it would be a conflict of interest for him to hear this issue.

The earlier Constitution bench comprising Gogoi and justices Bobde, N.V. Ramana, Chandrachud and Lalit was set up on 8 January.

On 10 January, the court directed the Supreme Court registry to engage official translators and submit a report regarding the correctness of the case documents.

The registry was also asked to assess the time required to make the case ready for hearing.

The registry was required to go through records stored in 15 sealed trunks running into thousands of pages. The case has been on the back burner despite attempts by senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy, an intervener in the case, to get an early hearing.

The apex court will hear 13 appeals filed against a 2010 Allahabad high court order mandating a three-way division of the disputed 2.77 acres among the Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla (infant Lord Ram), represented by the Hindu Mahasabha.

A civil suit for deciding the title of the property on which the Babri Masjid stood before it was demolished on 6 December 1992, had been filed before the Lucknow bench of the high court.

The Supreme Court had stayed the order in 2011.

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.

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