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Destiny brought Justice Ashok Bhushan in SC bench to hear Ayodhya dispute

Justices Bhushan and S A Nazeer made it to the bench after Justices N V Ramana and U U Lalit, both likely to become chief justice of India in future, recused themselves from hearing the politically sensitive matter in the wake of objections raised by some litigants.

PTI|
Nov 09, 2019, 05.03 PM IST
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Justice Bhushan had joined the bench dealing with Ayodhya matter after delivering 1994 Ismail Faruqui verdict.
NEW DELHI: Justice Ashok Bhushan was destined to be part of the historic Ayodhya land dispute judgement as his entry into the 5-member Constitution bench was due to the recusal of the two senior judges of the Supreme Court.

Justices Bhushan and S A Nazeer made it to the bench after Justices N V Ramana and U U Lalit, both likely to become chief justice of India in future, recused themselves from hearing the politically sensitive matter in the wake of objections raised by some litigants.

In the original scheme of thing, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had constituted the bench of judges who in the future, on the seniority basis, were likely to assume the office of the CJI.

Justice S A Bobde, who was part of the bench will succeed Justice Gogoi who retires this month, while Justice D Y Chandrachud would would become CJI for a period from November 9, 2022 to November 10, 2024.

Justice Bhushan had joined the bench dealing with Ayodhya matter months after delivering a relatively important judgement on September 27, 2018, in which the three-member bench refused to refer to five-judge Constitution bench the 1994 Ismail Faruqui verdict.

The 1994 judgement had held that Mosque was not integral to offering prayers in Islam.

The issue of referring the judgement had arisen when the bench had taken up the Ayodhya matter and Muslim parties demanded that the apex court first refer the Ismail Faruqui verdict to the five-judge bench.

In this matter, Justice Nazeer wrote a dissenting verdict.

Writing for himself and the then CJI Dipak Misra, Justice Bhushan had declined the request of Muslim parties in the Ayodhya case that the 1994 observation that "mosque is not essential part of practice of Islam" be sent to a larger bench as it would have a bearing in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri masjid land dispute.

Besides the Ayodhya matter, Justice Bhushan has penned several key verdicts like upholding the law on Aadhaar, its linking with PAN and judicial assertion that the CJI is the master of roster.

Later, he was part of the bench with Justice A K Sikri (since retired) which rejected the petitions challenging the Centre's ambitious project to link Aadhaar with the PAN cards to catch economic offenders.

The power tussle between the Centre and the Delhi government was conclusively settled by a bench to which Justice Bhushan was a part. It gave some powers to the centre and some to the city government.

Justice Bhushan had to deal with the key issue with regard to the administrative power of the CJI in the backdrop of the presser by four senior apex court judges led by then Justice J Chelameswar against the functioning of the then CJI Dipak Misra. Justice Gogoi was also part of that press conference.

The Chief Justice of India is the master of the roster, and the spokesperson and leader of the judiciary, Justice Bhushan had held while dismissing the petition filed by former law minister Shanti Bhushan.

The CJI is the first among equals and has the exclusive duty of allocating cases to different benches of the Supreme Court, the verdict had said.

Justice Bhushan, born in 1956 at Jaunpur district in Uttar Pradesh, started practice as lawyer in 1979 and became a permanent Judge of the Allahabad High Court in 2001.

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