Opposing the Centre’s petition for permission to return “excess/superfluous land” out of 67.703 acres acquired in Ayodhya to its original owners, the Nirmohi Akhara on Tuesday approached the Supreme Court, requesting it be heard while deciding the plea.
In an application, the Akhara said the apex court had, in its judgment in the M Ismail Faruqui Vs Union of India case in 1994, upheld the validity of acquisition made under the Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act, 1993.
By virtue of this Act, the organisation maintained, the “land is vested in the Central government as a trustee for a limited purposes to effectuate the purposes of the Act”.
“In terms of the directions issued therein, the Government of India can release only the ‘superfluous’ land to its original owners,” the Nirmohi Akhara said. “At present juncture, it is not known who would be the ultimate successful party, and therefore it cannot at present be assessed the extent of the superfluous area.”
The Akhara said it would require the land in question “once it is successful in the pending appeal (against Allahabad HC’s September 30, 2010 order dividing the disputed 2.77-acre Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site equally between the Nirmohi Akhara sect, the Sunni Central Wakf Board, Uttar Pradesh and Ramlalla Virajman), for better implementation of the outcome of suits between the parties.”
The Akhara said that “to ensure” its “success…remains meaningful, the lands ought not to be released from acquisition”.
The application stated that the land of Hindus, including the Akhara, was acquired by the Central government, and that releasing it will run counter to the court’s decision in the Faruqui case.
“It is submitted that in view of the said judgment, properties vested in the government for the purposes mentioned in the Act and the lands cannot be released from acquisition and frustrate the object and purpose of the acquisition. If the entire undisputed area is released and returned to the original owners, the objective of the Act would undoubtedly stand frustrated”, the application submitted.
The Akhara said that in October 1991 the UP government had acquired 2.77 acres of disputed land and demolished some temples there. This was quashed by the HC in December 1992, but the demolished temples were not restored.
“It is submitted in addition that since the Central government seeks permission to release the properties, the applicant submits that the government ought to also restore status quo ante i.e. require the state government to reconstruct the temples which were demolished by the state government subsequent to the notification” acquiring it.
The Akhara’s plea referred to the Centre’s application and said it “has indicated one of the beneficiaries – Ram Janm Bhumi Nyas – to which the Central Government seeks to return the land.”
It stated, “From the application itself it is evident that the land which the Central Government seeks to return to the said Nyas was the one which was leased to it by the then state government for development of a park – Ram Katha Park… (it) would require the said land for the purpose of construction of a temple and facilities necessary thereto if the applicant is successful in the appeals pending adjudication.”
It added, “At present no useful purpose would be served by releasing the land to the said Nyas.”
The Centre’s application is yet to come up for hearing.
On March 8, a Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had ordered mediation to attempt a solution to the Ayodhya dispute. The court appointed retired Supreme Court judge F M Ibrahim Kalifulla to head the mediation panel. Spiritual teacher Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu are the other panel members.
Subsequently, the Akhara, which said it had attended mediation proceedings in Faizabad, approached the top court and expressed displeasure over the process. It requested the court to consider appointing two more retired Supreme Court judges to the panel and moving the mediation process from Faizabad to New Delhi citing “the sensitive nature of the issue and other local pressures”.