The Centre on Tuesday filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court in connection with the Ayodhya dispute. It has requested the court to release the "excess vacant land" the government had acquired around the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Uttar Pradesh so it can transfer this "non-disputed" plot to the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas organisation.
The organisation is a trust that was formed to promote and oversee the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya.
The government had acquired 67 acres at the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site through an act in 1993, but the Supreme Court had ordered a status quo in 2003 on the entire land in Ayodhya where the 16th Century mosque stood before it was demolished by Hindu activists in 1992. The Babri Masjid stood on 0.313 acres of these 67 acres, which constitutes the disputed land.
— News18 (@CNNnews18) January 29, 2019
Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, this writ petition is being seen as the BJP-led government's move to reaffirm its commitment towards building a Ram temple in Ayodhya. CNN-News18 reported that the government will make efforts to return this undisputed land to its "Hindu" owners after ascertaining the exact area of the disputed plot.
In its petition, the Centre said the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas had sought the return of this excess land in 1991. It pointed out the Supreme Court's Ismail Faruqi judgment of 1994, in which it had said the government could consider returning the acquired land after the Allahabad High Court passed its order on the disputed plot.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, who on Saturday had said that the matter should be handed over to the state government so that it can be resolved "withi 24 hours", welcomed the Centre's move and said, "We welcome the move by the Centre. We have been saying that we should get permission to use the undisputed land."
BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav also supported the petition saying the Supreme Court "should allow" the government to return the land. "This is a much-awaited move. The Supreme Court should allow it as it's the least that can be done in the face of the inordinate delay by the court."
Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy said the "initial work" on the Ram temple could be started. He tweeted, "There is already a Ram Mandir standing on the on the Ram Janmabhoomi but it is in a tent. Till title suit is decided we will build all other parts of the temple is built. Then thereafter we will construct the sanctum sanctorum."
He also tweeted that at a meeting with Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday, he had discussed "his approach" to the issue. "But the Centre was keen to obtain prior permission to start the construction."
Uttar Pradesh minister Siddharth Nath Singh said the "government wants what the people want". According to CNN-news18, he said, "The government believes that the Ram mandir should be built as soon as possible, so it is trying all constitutional methods to make the process faster."
The report also quoted Iqbal Ansari, a petitioner in the case, as saying that there was "no problem" with the Centre's move to transfer the undisputed land to the Ram Janmabhoomi trust.
However, AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi said that the government was "threatening the judicial process". In a tweet, he said, "In 2003, the Supreme Court held that unless the dispute is resolved, status quo has to be maintained over surplus land. The government knows this. Threatening the judicial process like this is another (failed) attempt to save BJP from their rapidly diminishing political fortunes." he said.
The petition comes the day the Supreme Court was supposed to begin the long-anticipated hearing on the Ayodhya title dispute case, but the court cancelled the hearing due to the unavailability of one of the judges on the five-judge Constitution Bench.
On Monday, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had disapproved of the slow pace of hearing on the Ayodhya title suit in the Supreme Court. He had appealed to the court for an "expeditious decision" as had been done in matters related to adultery and the Sabarimala temple.
"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 had said.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Jan 29, 2019 13:31:47 IST