Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Dispute: Centre Moves SC Seeking Permission To Restore Non-Disputed Land In Ayodhya
In a massive development in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case, the Central government has filed an application in the Supreme Court, seeking permission to restore "surplus", "undisputed" land around Babri to Ram Janambhumi Trust.
As per a Times Now report, the petition points out that the Centre had acquired 67.703 acres of land in Ayodhya, including the plot where the structure commonly known as Babri Masjid was situated, by the Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act, 1993.
It now asserts that when the dispute only pertains to 0.313 acre land where Babri mosque once stood, the "surplus" and "excess" land should be allowed to be restored to its rightful owners.
The petition reportedly relies on the judgment in Dr. M. Ismail Faruqui and Ors. v. Union of India and Ors., when the Supreme Court had observed, "However, at a later stage when the exact area acquired which is needed", for achieving the professed purpose of acquisition, can be determined, it would not merely be permissible but also desirable that the superfluous excess area is released from acquisition and reverted to its earlier owner.
The challenge to acquisition of any part of the adjacent area on the ground that it is unnecessary for achieving the objective of settling the dispute relating to the disputed area cannot be examined at this stage but, in case the superfluous area is not returned to its owner even after the exact area needed for the purpose is finally determined, it would be open to the owner of any such property to then challenge the superfluous acquisition being unrelated to the purpose of acquisition."
The Centre's petition comes at a time when the newly constituted Constitution Bench is set to hear the title dispute. This bench initially comprised of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SA Bobde, NV Ramana, UU Lalit and DY Chandrachud, and was scheduled to hear the matter on January 10.
However, Justice UU Lalit recused himself from the case. This was after Senior Advocate Rajiv Dhavan, who represents the Sunni Waqf Board, pointed out that Justice Lalit had represented former UP CM Kalyan Singh, in a contempt of court case twenty-four years ago. The hearing was then adjourned till January 29.
In the meantime, Justice Ramana also withdrew from the case. The bench was then reconstituted on January 25, naming Justices Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer to take the place of the two judges.
You may read: Why Speedy Hearing Of Ayodhya-Babri Case Is Unlikely? By Manu Sebastian