Nirmohi Akhara, one of the original litigants in the Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case, Monday moved the Supreme Court against the Centre’s plea to allow it to return the surplus land acquired near the disputed land to the original owners, reported news agency PTI. The Akhara said the acquisition of land by the Centre has already destroyed many temples managed by the organisation and hence it wants the court to decide the title dispute, news agency ANI added.
In January this year, the Centre moved Supreme Court asking that it lift the status quo on non-disputed land around the disputed site and hand over the surplus to the original owners, which includes the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas (a trust to promote construction of Ram Temple). In its writ petition, the Centre said it had acquired 67 acres of land around the 2.77 acres disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site. In 2003, the apex court had ordered that the status quo be maintained with regard to the acquired 67 acres of land around the disputed site.
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”.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad had welcomed the Centre’s move. In a press statement, the VHP said that the land under litigation, where the disputed structure existed, admeasures only 0.313 acres out of the total 67.703 acquired by the government in 1993.
The Supreme Court has referred the decades-old title dispute for in-camera mediation. The five-judge bench headed by CJI Gogoi constituted a three-member mediation panel headed by former SC judge Justice F M Kalifullah to resolve the issue. The other members of the panel include spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Senior Advocate Sriram Panchu.
The ruling BJP which released its manifesto yesterday asserted that it will make all necessary efforts within the framework of Constitution for “expeditious construction” of a Ram temple in Ayodhya. “We reiterate our stand on Ram Mandir. We will explore all possibilities within the framework of the Constitution and all necessary efforts to facilitate the expeditious construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya,” the Sankalp Patra read.