Ayodhya issue: Centre moves SC to give excess vacant land to original owners

New Delhi: The Centre today moved the Supreme Court seeking its permission to return the excess or superfluous land around the disputed Ram Janambhoomi Babri masjid site to original owners, a significant move by the BJP government ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

In a fresh plea, the Centre said it had acquired 67 acres of land, including the 2.77 acre disputed Ram Janambhoomi-Babri masjid site, and sought permission of the top court to return the excess land to its original owners.

‘The applicant (Centre) is filing this Application seeking permission of this Court to permit the applicant to fulfil the duty to revert / restore / hand over the excess / superfluous land acquired under the Acquisition of Certain Areas of Ayodhya Act, 1993,’ the plea said.

The Centre also referred to the Supreme Court’s verdict in the 1994 Ismail Faruqui case, saying the top court had observed that if the Centre wanted to return the acquired land to its original owners then it may do so.

‘The Constitution Bench of this Court has held that the superfluous area which is other than the disputed area of 0.313 acres shall be reverted / restored to its original owners,’ the plea said.

The plea has said the Ram Janambhoomi Nyas (a trust to promote construction of Ram Temple) had sought return of excess land acquired in 1991 to original owners.

‘One party namely Ram Janambhoomi Nyas whose land measuring approximately 42 acres [which is a part of the superfluous / excess land] was acquired, has moved an application relying on the Constitution bench judgement of this court,’ the plea said.

The Centre, in its fresh plea, has sought modification of the apex court order of 2003 in which it had directed to maintain status quo with regard to the acquired land.

‘The Applicant is seeking permission of this court to discharge its duty as earmarked in the judgement of the Constitution bench by suitably modifying /vacating the order dated 31.11.2003,’ the plea said.

The Central government in 1991 had acquired 67 acres, including the disputed site. The Centre has said in its plea that it has no objection in returning the land to its actual owners.