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A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SA Bobde, NV Ramana, UU Lalit and DY Chandrachud will hear the case concerning Ram Mandir- Babri Masjid dispute.
The reference to a Constitution Bench comes as a surprise given that a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court had earlier declined to refer the matter to a larger Bench to reconsider its 1994 judgment in Ismail Faruqui v. Union of India.
In October 2018, a three-Judge Bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi with Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph had deferred the hearing in the case till January 2019 citing there was no urgency in the case. The adjournment was with respect to setting a date for commencement of the final hearing in the case.
The case had come up for hearing after another three-Judge Bench comprising then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer had ruled by a 2:1 majority in September 2017 that the case need not be referred to a larger Bench.
The question that was answered in the September 2018 verdict was whether the Supreme Court’s 1994 judgment in the Ismail Farooqui v. Union of India should be reconsidered. In the Ismail Faruqui judgment, the Supreme Court had held that while offering prayer or worship is a religious practice, offering prayer at every location where such prayers can be offered would not be an essential or integral part of such religious practice, unless the place has a particular significance for that religion.
The Bench headed by then CJI Dipak Misra held that the ruling in Ismail Farooqui case pertaining to Mosques not being essential to the religion was constrained to the facts of that particular case and the judgment, thus, need not be revisited.
Read the notice below.