The Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi case in the Supreme Court began on an extremely dramatic note with Justice UU Lalit, who was part of the five-member Constitution bench, recusing himself from hearing the matter.
Justice Lalit recused himself after one of the petitioners in the case brought up the fact that in 1994, UU Lalit was the lawyer for Kalyan Singh in a case related to contempt of court. Kalyan Singh was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh when the Babri Masjid was controversially demolished in 1992.
Rajeev Dhawan, who brought up the matter of UU Lalit being a lawyer from Kalyan Singh, said that he had no objection to the jduge hearing the Ayodhya case.
“I am bringing it to Your Lordships notice though we dont have objection to him hearing the matter. It is entirely upto Your Lordships,” Dhawan told the Supreme Court.
Follwing this, the five judges on the Constitution bench — included CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Justices SA Bobde, NV Ramana, UU Lalit and DY Chandrachud — held an internal discussion.
On coming out of the discussion, CJI Gogoi said that Justice Lalit had expressed a desire to recuse from hearing the matter, as it would not seem appropriate for him to continue on the bench even though the although the merits of the Ayodhya case are unrelated to the contempt case in question.