The Centre has moved the Supreme Court seeking permission to return what it calls the “excess/superfluous land” of the 67.703 acres acquired in Ayodhya to its “original owners” including the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas.
The Centre’s application filed on Tuesday said the Nyas had approached it for return of “approximately 42 acres” acquired from the Nyas and added that the government had “no objection in principle” to this but the apex court had directed status quo by its order dated March 31, 2003 and sought modification of the same.
The Centre pointed out that the Nyas request was based on the 1994 Constitution bench decision of the court in M Ismail Faruqui Vs Union of India wherein it was held that “the superfluous area which is other than the disputed area of 0.313 acres shall be reverted / restored to its original owners”.
The SC had, in a 3-2 judgment in the Faruqui case, upheld the Constitutional validity of the Acquisition of Certain Areas of Ayodhya Act, 1993 under which the 67.703 acres was acquired.
The judgment, while turning down the opposition to acquisition of the adjacent areas, however said that “at a later stage when the exact area acquired which is needed, for achieving the professed purpose of the acquisition, can be determined, it would merely be permissible but also desirous that the superfluous excess area is released from acquisition and reverted to its earlier owner”.
The Centre said that the Faruqui ruling 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”.
It had also given the government the right to decide how much land around the disputed property will be required for the winning side to enjoy their rights, the Union contended.
The Centre added that the court had also held that “the factual determination as to the extent of the adjacent area considered necessary is in the domain of …policy and is not a matter for judicial scrutiny or a ground for testing the Constitutional validity of the enactment’.
The government said it was ready to carry out an exercise “to determine the exact extent of land required from out of the superfluous/excess land to ensure that successful party in the dispute pending regarding the “disputed land” can have proper access.to and enjoyment of rights in the disputed land” and requested the court to modify the March 31, 2003 order to enable it to do this.
It pointed out that following the Faruqui ruling, the Nyas had approached the government in June 1996 with a prayer to return the excess land but this was turned down in August that year “on the ground that the request…can be considered only after the suits relating to the disputed area are adjudicated by the Hon’ble Allahabad High Court…”.
The Nyas moved the SC against this but the apex court upheld the government decision.
Thereafter, one Mohd Aslam alias Bhure moved the SC against alleged plans for ‘bhoomipoojan’ in the excess land.
The Centre said the apex court had in Bhure’s case in March 31, 2003 “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”.
Subsequently, the High Court delivered its final judgment in the matter on September 30, 2010, the union pointed out.
The Centre submitted that the “contemplated action…to restore” the excess land “to the respective origlnal owners/occupiers may not be required to be inked with the outcome of the…civil appeals” as the 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”.
The application said it was “in the larger interest of justice that the Central Government be permitted to restore/revert/hand over back the superfluous/excess land while ensuring proper access to and enjoyment of rights in the disputed land”
The government contended that the March 31, 2003 order of the court was passed “under the circumstances which existed at that point of time” and there were subsequent events like the final adjudication and disposal of the pending suits by the High Court.