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Ayodhya: SC nod for tarpaulin change

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday permitted the authorities to change the tarpaulin and ropes at Lord Rama's make-shift temple in Ayodhya without disturbing the status quo on the 67 acre land adjacent to the disputed site.

A Bench comprising justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai said the tarpaulin sheet and ropes of the same size as placed presently could be changed with new ones at the site of make-shift temple under the supervision of the two observers.

A policeman walks past a temple in Ayodhya. AFP

A policeman walks past a temple in Ayodhya. AFP

The bench said two judicial officers appointed by the Allahabad High Court in March 2003 as Commissioners to keep it would supervise the change of tarpaulin and ropes.

The bench said the two judicial officers would "additionally see that the order of status quo is duly maintained".

It declined the plea of the Registrar of the High Court to relieve the judicial officers from performing their duty as Commissioners.

The Registrar had made an application stating that since the issues relating to the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya was now before the apex court, the two judicial officers, who had been appointed as Commissioners on High Court order, should be relieved of their duty.

The judicial officers were assigned to visit the place fortnightly for keeping it updated about the situation there in Ayodhya.

The bench also said it would not allow any impleadment in the matter and would only hear those who are party to it.

The apex court during the last hearing on the matter on January 28 had also made it clear that status quo ordered on 67 acre land adjacent to the disputed site in Ayodhya should not be disturbed while carrying out excavation activity in the vicinity.

The Commissioner, Faizabad District, also said there was a need for permission from the apex court for carrying out work relating to the tarpaulin and ropes at the make-shift temple.

The apex court had admitted several petitions challenging the Allahabad High Court verdict of three-way division of the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya.

It had stayed the operation of the September 30, 2010 verdict of the high court.

The apex court on May 9, 2011 had dubbed as "strange" the high court's verdict of three-way division of the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya and had stayed its operation saying none of the parties had demanded partition of the land.

While ordering status quo at the site, which means that prayers at Ram Lalla's make-shift temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya would be going on as usual, the court had restrained any kind of religious activity on the adjacent 67 acre land, which had been taken over by the Centre.

All the parties to the suit had expressed satisfaction over the Supreme Court's May 9, 2011 order.

PTI

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