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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Explained: The 67 acres in Ayodhya

What is the ‘excess' land that the Central government acquired in 1993? Where does it stand in relation to the demolished Babri Masjid? What is the argument in the government’s application in Supreme Court?

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: January 30, 2019 7:58:27 am
ayodhya, ayodhya land dispute, centre petition supreme court, centre ayodhya land, non disputed land, babri masjid, Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, babri masjid demolition, Indian express December 6, 1992: The Babri Masjid was demolished by kar sevaks. (Express Archive)

The central government has asked the Supreme Court to allow it to return “excess/superfluous land” from the 67.703 acres it acquired in Ayodhya in 1993 to the “original owners”, which includes the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas.

The Centre argued in its application that the Supreme Court’s judgment in Dr M Ismail Faruqui and Ors Vs Union of India (October 24, 1994), which upheld the Constitutional validity of the Acquisition of Certain Areas of Ayodhya Act, 1993, under which the 67.703 acres were acquired, had also established that the “interest claimed by the Muslims was only over the disputed site of 0.313 acres where the disputed structure stood before its demolition”.

Click to enlarge. Sketch not to scale.

In June 1996, the Nyas had asked the government to return the excess land, but this request was denied “on the ground that… (it) can be considered only after the suits relating to the disputed area are adjudicated by the Hon’ble Allahabad High Court…”.

Subsequently, in Mohd Aslam @ Bhure vs Union Of India And Ors (March 31, 2003) the court had, “in clear, categorical terms held that the status quo has to be maintained only until the suits pending before the Hon’ble Allahabad High Court are disposed of”, the government said.

The Allahabad High Court delivered its judgment on September 30, 2010. It divided the disputed 2.77 acres of land, including the spot where the Babri Masjid stood until December 6, 1992, and the area around it, equally among the Nirmohi Akhara, the Sunni Central Wakf Board, UP, and Ramlalla Virajman.

On Tuesday, the Centre asked the Supreme Court to let it “restore/revert/hand over back the superfluous/excess land” without linking this process “with the outcome of the… civil appeals” — this was because issues concerning the excess land acquired in 1993 “cannot be and will not be gone into and/or adjudicated in the said appeals which is confined to the inter se claims regarding the “disputed land” admeasuring 0.313 acres only”.

Notes: Map of 67 acres is indicative and not to scale. Sketch of the plot where the Babri Masjid stood is based on a plan prepared by Shiv Shankar Lal, Pleader, Commissioner on May 25, 1950, in the court of the Civil Judge, Faizabad (Regular Suit No. 2 of 1950, Gopal Singh Visharad vs Zahur Ahmad and Others). Sketch not to scale, based on reproduction of plan in order of the Allahabad High Court, September 30, 2010. Starting 1950, five title suits were filed before the Civil Judge, Faizabad. One was dismissed as withdrawn; on January 6, 1964, the Civil Judge consolidated the other four, with Regular Suit No. 12 (1961) as th lead case. In 1989, the Allahabad High Court withdrew the cases to itself.

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