Ayodhya: Previously, SC wanted 'excess' land to remain undisturbed
The Supreme Court has, in last 16 years, told twice that excess land surrounding the disputed property of Ayodhya, which the Centre wants to return to rightful owners, shouldn't be disturbed before the title dispute reaches a conclusion. The top court had said the status quo of 67.03 acres of land was important to maintain 'peace and tranquility'. Here's looking at what happened so far.
The Centre on Tuesday moved the top court with a request that it should be allowed to return the surplus land to owners, which include the Mandir trust, Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas. BJP supporters saw it as a substantial move taken by the Centre in wake of inordinate delays in the case. In January 2019 itself, the case was delayed twice by the top court.
A month after Babri Masjid was demolished in 1992, PV Narasimha Rao government passed the Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Ordinance. It was made into a law which allowed the government to acquire 67 acres of land including the 2.77 acres which is disputed. The extra land was acquired to facilitate the entry of devotees if the temple was ever built on site.
In the 1994 Ismail Faruqui v/s Union of India case, SC held the land acquisition was constitutional and that Muslim bodies have laid claim over only 0.313 acres of land where the mosque stood. In June 1996, Nyas had asked the government for the excess land but the plea was rejected. Subsequently, they approached Allahabad High Court but got rejected there too.
Then in 2002, VHP supporters gathered to do a shila pujan at the undisputed land. Back then, a cycle-rickshaw shop-owner, Mohammed Aslam Bhure, foiled their plans by approaching the SC. The top court clearly stated no religious activity could be allowed to perform in the area. A year later, in 2003, a constitution bench passed a similar order related to undisputed land.
The court relied on the 1994 judgment and said both lands are intrinsically connected. When the Union of India, argued Bhure's petition was vague and 'beyond scope of Faruqui judgment', SC shot back. It said, "The Preamble to the Act itself discloses that the objective of the enactment is the maintenance of harmony between different communities in the country and to maintain public order."
Further, the court said if Muslims win the title suit, their success should not be thwarted by Hindu bodies exercising their rights. The court also added that since the status quo has been maintained since 1992 and the case is pending in courts, it won't be appropriate to disturb the state of affairs. It added 'preservation of property' in its 'original condition' was necessary.