Ayodhya dispute: Centre files application in the Supreme Court to allow it to return undisputed excess land to owners

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]N a new turn, Centre has filed an application in the Supreme Court seeking permission of the Court to allow it to handover the excess/superfluous lands around disputed site in Ayodhya to Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas and other owners the land adjacent to the disputed site in Ayodhya. The Centre has sought a direction from the Supreme Court to release 67 acres of land, out of which 0.313 acres are disputed.

Further, Centre has also sought modification of the Supreme Court’s order dated March 31, 2003 in Mohd. Aslam @ Bhure vs Union Of India, wherein the court had ordered to maintain the status quo and directed as follows:

“In the meantime we direct that on the 67703 acres of acquired land located in various plots detailed in the Schedule to Acquisition or Central Area at Ayodhya Act, 1993. Which is vested in the Central Government no religious activity of any kind by anyone either symbolic or actual including bhumipuja or shila puja, shall be permitted or allowed to take place.”

Pertinently, in the same very judgment, the Supreme Court had also noted at para 14 as follows:

“From the observations quoted above, it is clear that the adjacent land, though vest in the Central Government, will have to be utilised in different manners depending upon the outcome of the litigation in respect of the disputed property. Thus the manner or extent to which the adjacent land could be used would depend upon the final outcome of the pending dispute in the High Court. The acquisition of larger extent of land is incidental to main purpose. Thus, the two acquired lands are intrinsically connected with one another and cannot be separated at this stage of the proceedings for different treatment during the interregnum. Further it has also been made clear that if any land becomes superfluous such land will have to be returned to the owner who my have to initiate appropriate proceedings to challenge the validity of the acquisition as indicated in the course of the judgement of this Court in M.Ismail Faruqui’s case [supra]. If land is transferred to any other body or trust as provided under Section 6 of the Act at this stage further complications may arise. Therefore, status quo will have to be maintained until suits are finally disposed of. We hold that the orders of this Court made earlier are not beyond the scope of the decision in M. Ismail Faruqui’s case”.

It may also be noted that after the disposal of the title suits by the Allahabad High Court in 2010, the Supreme Court on the appeals filed by various parties challenging the Allahabad High Court’s order had ordered to maintain status quo in the matter.

Centre in its application has, however, said that the contemplated action of the Central Government to restore/revert/handover back the superfluous excess land to their respective original owners/occupiers may not be required to link with the outcome of pending title suit in Ayodhya matter.

Centre has also referred to the five-judge Constitution bench decision in Ismail Faruqui case to buttress 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 and the remaining entire property acquired under the Acquisition of Certain Areas of Ayodhya Act, 1993 is such over which no title suit claimed by Muslims

It may be noted that the present Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi has already constituted a five-judge bench to hear the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit. The case was scheduled to be heard today, but due to non availability of one the judges on the bench Justice S A Bobde, hearing of the case could not take place.


Read the Application