What Is The Ayodhya Act As Per Which Centre Should Form The Trust For Temple Construction?
While holding that the disputed land in Ayodhya belongs to the Hindu deity Ram Lalla, the 5 judges bench of theSupreme Court has directed the Central government, which until now held the vested interests in the area, to formulate a scheme for setting up a trust which shall be transferred the possession of the inner and outer courtyards.
The direction comes in view of the powers vested in the Central Government under Sections 6 and 7 of the Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act 1993.
The Court directed :
"The Central Government shall, within a period of three months from the date of this judgment, formulate a scheme pursuant to the powers vested in it under Sections 6 and 7 of the Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act 1993. The scheme shall envisage the setting up of a trust with a Board of Trustees or any other appropriate body under Section 6. The scheme to be framed by the Central Government shall make necessary provisions in regard to the functioning of the trust or body including on matters relating to the management of the trust, the powers of the trustees including the construction of a temple and all necessary, incidental and supplemental matters;
Possession of the inner and outer courtyards shall be handed over to the Board of Trustees of the Trust or to the body so constituted. The Central Government will be at liberty to make suitable provisions in respect of the rest of the acquired land by handing it over to the Trust or body for management and development in terms of the scheme framed in accordance with the above directions;
Possession of the disputed property shall continue to vest in the statutory receiver under the Central Government, untill in exercise of its jurisdiction under Section 6 of the Ayodhya Act of 1993, a notification is issued vesting the property in the trust or other body."
The Ayodhya Act empowered the Central Government to acquire 67.7 acres of land, in and around the disputed site of Ayodhya, in order to maintain peace and harmony between the Hindu and Muslim communities. The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Act read,
"it is necessary to maintain public order and to promote communal harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst the people of India;
And whereas with a view to achieving the aforesaid objectives, it is necessary to acquire certain areas in Ayodhya"
Accordingly, Section 3 of the Ayodhya Act transferred the right, title and interest in relation to the area in and around the disputed land to the Central Government.
Interestingly, Section 6 of the Act stipulated that the Central government may vest the acquired area in any authority or other body, or trustees of any trust, set up on or after the commencement of the Act, if the body is willing to comply with such terms and conditions as the Government may impose. Further, it prescribed that the rights of the Central Government in relation to the area shall then be deemed to have become the rights of that authority or body or trustees of that trust, as the case may be.
This provision has been used by the Supreme Court to direct the Central Government to hand over the land to a trust that will manage and develop the area in accordance with the scheme so formulated by the government.
Considerably, the managing rights of the land are conferred on the Central government or any other authority/ trust as the case may be, by virtue of Section 7 of the Act. It reads as below:
"7. Management of property by Government.—(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in any contract or instrument or order of any court, tribunal or other authority to the contrary, on and from the commencement of this Act, the property vested in the Central Government under section 3 shall be managed by the Central Government or by a person or body of persons or trustees of any trust authorised by that Government in this behalf."
Notwithstanding sub-section 2 of Section 7, which stipulates that the managing body shall maintain status quo with regards the structure commonly known as the "Ram Janma Bhumi-Babri Masjid", with the declaration of the title of the land in favor of the deity, the managing body shall now be authorized to construct a temple on the land, in accordance with the Central Government's scheme.
Appointment of a Trust was necessitated by the absence of an organization representative of the deity. The suit on behalf of Ram Lalla was filed through a 'next friend', who could not be said to be a 'representative organization'.
In July 1989, senior advocate and retired Judge of the Allahabad High Court Deoki Nandan Agarwala sought appointment as Ram Lalla's friend. After his death in April, 2002, a retired history professor at BHU, T P Verma, was appointed the next friend. In early 2010, Verma was succeeded by Triloki Nath Pandey due to Verma's retirement from the status.
The validity of the Ayodhya Act was earlier upheld by the Supreme Court in Dr. M. Ismail Faruqui & Ors. v. Union Of India & Ors., 1994 SCC (6) 360. Refuting the argument that the Constitution did not permit the state to acquire a place of worship in order to preserve public order, the majority judgment rendered by Justices M.N. Venkatachaliah, J.S.Verma and G.N. upheld the vires of the Act.
The Faruqui ruling is also important as it struck off Section 4(3) of the Act which sought to abate any suit, appeal or other proceeding in respect of the right, title and interest of the acquired land, pending before any court, tribunal or other authority at the time of commencement of the Act. Had that not been the case, the present appeals which culminated into the Supreme Court's verdict could not have been possible.