Ayodhya land dispute case: Centre moves SC, seeks nod to hand over non-disputed land to original ownershttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/ayodhya-land-dispute-case-centre-moves-sc-seeks-nod-to-hand-over-non-disputed-land-to-ram-temple-trust/

Ayodhya land dispute case: Centre moves SC, seeks nod to hand over non-disputed land to original owners

The government has sought modification of the March 2003 judgement to restore 'surplus' land which remains undisputed to its 'rightful owners' Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas.

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Construction material for the Ram Janam Bhoomi Temple at a workshop in Ayodhya. File/Express Photo by Vishal Srivastav

The Centre Tuesday moved Supreme Court asking that it lift the status quo on non-disputed land around the disputed site and hand over surplus to the original owners. 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.

The Centre said that the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas (a trust to promote construction of Ram Temple) had sought the return of excess land acquired in 1991 to original owners. 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 Supreme Court Sunday cancelled the January 29 hearing in the politically sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land title dispute case as one member of the five-judge Constitution bench would not be available.

On Monday, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad expressed his disapproval of the slow pace of hearing on the Ayodhya title suit in the Supreme Court and appealed to for an “expeditious decision” as had been done in matters related to adultery and Sabarimala temple. Prasad said that he spoke as a citizen and not as the law minister.

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“It is the wish of the people of the country that a Ram Temple be built at Ayodhya. Our Prime Minister and our party president have also made it clear that this will take place within the constitutional framework,” Prasad told reporters in Patna.

“However, I would like to add something as a citizen of this country and not as the law minister. This matter has been pending for 70 years. It took 60 years for the Allahabad High Court to come out with its verdict on the title suit and the appeal against the same has been pending before the Supreme Court for 10 years,” said Prasad, who was the counsel for one of the petitioners in the High Court.

Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan clarified that there was no question of an ordinance on the construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya and that the government would wait for the Supreme Court’s verdict.

“I am happy that Prime Minister Modi has told Parliament that the government will wait for the Supreme Court’s verdict on Ram Mandir and act accordingly,” Paswan had said.

Meanwhile, the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) has welcomed the move by the Centre. 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.

“All the other land, including of Ram Janmabhumi Nyas, is not under any dispute. The Hon’ble Supreme Court had said in M Ismail case that the superfluous land shall be returned to its owners,” the statement said.

The VHP hoped that the apex court expeditiously decides the application filed by the Centre, the statement said.

UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also supported the Centre’s move, saying that it was necessary. “Desh ke sauhard ke liye, yeh kadam avashyak tha” (the step was necessary for the harmony in the country),” he said.