New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court seeking its permission to return the 67-acre acquired land around the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site to its “original owners”.
In a fresh plea, the Centre said it had acquired 67 acres of land around the 2.77 acre disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site.
The plea has said that the Ram Janambhoomi Nyas (a trust to promote construction of the Ram temple) had sought the return of excess land acquired in 1991 to “original owners”.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has expressed its “strong disapproval” of the Centre’s submission. “This move by the Centre is clearly aimed at appeasing the Sangh Parivar which is demanding immediate construction of the temple at all costs. Obviously, all these moves are being orchestrated keeping the impending Lok Sabha elections in mind,” the party said in a statement.
Earlier, the apex court had ordered that the status quo be maintained with regard to the acquired 67 acre of land around the disputed site.
The Central government in 1991 had acquired 67 acre land around the disputed site.
Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad high court judgement, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land be partitioned equally among three parties – the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
The Supreme Court had on Sunday cancelled the hearing scheduled for Tuesday in the title dispute case due to non-availability of Justice S.A. Bobde, one of the five judges of the Constitution bench.
Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had expressed his displeasure with the “slow” pace of the hearings. “It is the wish of the people of the country that a Ram temple be built at Ayodhya. Our prime minister and our party president have also made it clear that this will take place within the constitutional framework,” Prasad said.
“However, I would like to add something as a citizen of this country and not as the law minister. This matter has been pending for 70 years. It took 60 years for the Allahabad High Court to come out with its verdict on the title suit and the appeal against the same has been pending before the Supreme Court for 10 years,” he continued.
The Narendra Modi government has been pressing for an expedited hearing before the 2019 elections.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has welcomed the Centre’s submission to the Supreme Court. “This land belongs to Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas and is not under any litigation. This is a step in right direction and we welcome it,” VHP international working president Alok Kumar said.
(With PTI inputs)