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Ayodhya one of most important cases in World: CJI-designate SA Bobde

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New Delhi, Oct 30: Chief Justice of India designate Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde on Wednesday said the Ayodhya title dispute case was one of the most important cases in the world today.

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In an interview with NDTV, Justice Bobde, who is set to replace CJI Ranjan Gogoi on November 18, said the Ayodhya dispute was a very important case in judicial history. Bobde is part of the five-judge Constitution bench that heard for 40 days appeals against the 2010 verdict of the Allahabad High Court in the case.

The bench reserved its order on October 16 and will pronounce the judgment before the incumbent CJI, Ranjan Gogoi, retires on November 17.

The Supreme Court has to rule on appeals against the September 30, 2010 verdict of the Allahabad High Court that ordered a three-way division of the disputed 2.77 acres between the Nirmohi Akhara sect, the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board and Ramlalla Virajman.

Inappropriate to comment on Ayodhya matter now: Kalyan Singh

Speaking to news agency PTI, Bobde said he is not in favour of disclosing the deliberations of the Supreme Court's Collegium on rejection of names for higher judiciary, saying it is not a question of secrecy but the right to privacy.

The statement by Justice Bobde, who was part of a nine-judge Constitution bench which declared right to privacy as a fundamental right, assumes significance in the wake of a growing clamour for more transparency in the functioning of the apex court's Collegium.

Batting for the right to privacy of those who have not been selected by the Collegium for appointment or elevation as judges in the higher judiciary, he said they also have a "life to live" and why should their negative details be put in public domain.

"It is not a question of secrecy but question of privacy. I am not saying that we should resort back to older method but I am saying a recent decision was taken by the Collegium that we would give the names of all those only who we are appointed and not of those who are rejected or reasons for rejection," Justice Bobde said.

For the first time in the history of judiciary, the then CJI Dipak Misra had in 2017 taken a decision to make public the recommendations of the Collegium on the apex court's website. He gave an illustration saying if a serving high court judge is denied elevation on account of some reports placed before the Collegium, he or she has to still hold the court.

"Say as example, the Supreme Court relies on some material and decides that he is not suitable and if all those materials are put in public domain, then he will say that okay do not consider me for judgeship. Why consider me and then give me a bad name. After that also I have to sit in court and decide the matters," he said.

Calling the incident "unfortunate", Bobde said all CJIs were equal. "There may be larger and smaller high courts because there are larger and smaller states but all chief justices are equal, in status, power, remuneration," he said.

Justice Bobde, 63, also rued the criticism of judges on social media for their judicial actions and said most of the judges, who are not "thick skinned", get perturbed. "I still think that we need to be conservative. The reason is that people's reputation is at stake. We need to be conservative. Half of the complaints which come are not true. I am saying half as a phrase. And I think that the collegium and the court should be conservative in these matters," PTI quoted him as saying.

Justice Bobde will be India's 47th CJI but only the second one from Maharashtra's Nagpur region; the first one was CJI Mohammad Hidayatullah. Justice Bobde's tenure as CJI will last for 17 months and he is due to retire in April 2021.

with PTI inputs

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