Ayodhya dispute: Centre seeks SC nod to return non-disputed land

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Seeking to speed up the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya in the face of judicial delays and growing pressure from the RSS, the central government has moved the Supreme Court, saying it is “duty bound” to return to Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas and other owners the land adjacent to the disputed site in Ayodhya.

In its application, the Centre has sought modification of the Supreme Court’s orders in 2003 and 2011 by which a complete status quo was imposed on entire 67.7 acre of the land acquired by the government in 1993.

While the hearing of the title dispute in the top court has been delayed on account of various reasons, the government’s move has come close of the heels of the upcoming general elections wherein construction of Ram Temple has been a prime issue for the BJP. 

The government has now submitted that before the court that the original landowners, which included 42 acre of acquired land of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, were “entitled” to get their land back.

“It is respectfully submitted that the acquisition took place in the year 1993 and 25 years have passed, the original landowners whose land, which were not in dispute but were still acquired, are entitled to get it back and the Central government is duty bound to restore/revert/hand over the same land,” stated the application. 

The plea emphasised that only 0.313 area, upon which the Babri mosque stood, is the bone of contention and since the ownership of the “excess” and “superfluous” area is beyond any dispute, their land should be released from acquisition. 

The government pointed out that outcome of the appeal pending before the Supreme Court at this stage will not have any impact on the excess land that was acquired and hence there is no legal impediment in allowing the Centre to restore the land to the Nyas and other original land owners. 

It further undertook to provide proper access to and enjoyment of the other rights of the land to the successful parties of the case relating to the title dispute being adjudicated by the court. 

Welcoming the government’s petition in SC, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad called it a step in the right direction.

The government has filed the petition a day after the Supreme Court delayed the hearing in the Ayodhya title suit. The hearing was cancelled because one of the judges, Justice SA Bobde, was not available due to medical reasons.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the temple-mosque case must be heard in court without delay. “The Ayodhya case has been pending for the last 70 years. The Allahabad High Court order was in favour of the temple (in 2010), but then it is on hold in the Supreme Court now. This matter should be cleared soon,” he said. 

The Allahabad high court had ordered for the three-way division of the disputed 2.77 acre area at Ayodhya among the parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and the Lord Ram Lalla.

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