NEW DELHI: A plea challenging the constitutional validity of The Acquisition of Certain Area At Ayodhya Act, 1993, on the basis of which the Centre had acquired the area comprising 67 acres adjacent to the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute site, was filed in the Supreme Court on Monday.
The petition was brought by a group of seven persons, including two advocates, who claim to be followers of Sanatan Dharma and worshippers of Lord Ram.
The main grounds of challenge are that Parliament does not have legislative competence to acquire property belonging to the state and that the state legislature has exclusive power to make provision relating to the management of the affairs of religious institutions of the state.
The petition relied on Article 294 of the Constitution by virtue of which Parliament could not acquire land vested in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
The Act is also claimed to be unreasonable and one that infringes the right to religion of Hindus guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution. It was further contended that the acquired site was not a historical monument but a site of pilgrimage, over which the state legislature had exclusive power to make a law.
On 29 January, the Centre moved the apex court seeking permission for release of what it called the “non-disputed" land around the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site to its original owners. This would not include 0.313 acres of land that it said is disputed. It does, however, include parcels of land given by the then Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of Uttar Pradesh to the Ram Janmabhoomi (RJB) Nyas, a trust promoting and overseeing the construction of a temple in Ayodhya.
In its appeal, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led central government sought modification of the apex court’s order of 2003 directing status quo on the excess land.
The Ayodhya dispute has been on the back burner despite attempts by parties in the case to secure an early hearing. A new Constitution bench slated to hear the issue on 29 January was cancelled as one of the judges on the bench, Justice S.A. Bobde, was on leave that day. The next date for hearing has not been given.
The apex court is vested with 14 appeals filed against a 2010 Allahabad high court order mandating a three-way division of the disputed 2.77 acres among the Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla (infant Lord Ram), represented by the Hindu Mahasabha.