Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has offered a fairly detailed reaction to the Supreme Court hearing in the Ayodhya title case dispute being delayed yet again, this time due to the non-availability of Justice Bobde - one of the members of the 5-judge CJI-led Constitution bench that is to take up the batch of appeals against the 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict in the matter.
Addressing reporters in Patna, the minister said that the country is expectant that a Ram Mandir should be built at the Ram Janmabhoomi site at Ayodhya and that the matter should be resolved as per the law. However, going on to speak "as a citizen", he remarked upon how this dispute has been ongoing for about 70 years and the appeal itself has been going on for almost a decade, concluding that it should now be sorted out as quickly as possible.
He then observed that in some matters there have been quick hearings, listing the Sabarimala case, the sensational overnight hearing over the BS Yeddyurappa being invited to form a government in Karnataka despite not having a majority, the 'Urban Maoist' case following the arrest of persons by the Maharashtra police, and the Adultery verdict. He said that these cases being taken up at an expedited pace was a good thing and similarly, it is in the interest of the country that the Ayodhya case also be taken up quickly.
The hearing in the Ayodhya case was scheduled to be held on Tuesday (January 29) but was cancelled on account of the non-availability of Justice Bobde due to medical reasons. This came after the 5-judge bench had to be reconstituted following senior counsel Rajeev Dhawan pointing out in-court on January 10 that Justice UU Lalit had earlier appeared as a lawyer for a party in a related case. Justice Lalit subsequently recused himself from the case.
This is the third time a delay has been caused in a case, the longest being when the top court said the matter wasn't a priority when it came up for hearing in October 2018. Then came the Jan 10, 2019 delay, and now in case of the Jan 29 hearing. As a result, pro-Mandir groups have stepped up their demand for the government to bring about an ordinance or some other legislative route to facilitate construction of the Ram Mandir. Just a few days earlier, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had said on a TV show that he would resolve the matter in 24 hours had the Supreme Court not been hearing it.
Both PM Modi and Amit Shah have said that the government will only act once the apex court has pronounced its verdict in the case. On the other hand, BJP Rajya Sabha MP Dr Subramanian Swamy has repeatedly implored the government to hand over the land to the VHP to begin the Ram Mandir's construction immediately, citing that the Supreme Court is only hearing a case related to land.