Two days after the Supreme Court said the disputed land in Ayodhya belongs entirely to the deity Ram Lalla, the government has begun the process of forming the trust that will oversee construction of a temple at the spot. Government sources on Monday confirmed that a certain number of senior bureaucrats from top-level ministries, including Home and Finance, will be part of the board that will decide on the make-up of the trust and the rules by which it will function.
Sources also said the board has been given express instructions to proceed with caution and study the Supreme Court order fully before deciding on which parties and groups to include. The board has also been advised to seek legal opinions from the Law Ministry and Attorney-General KK Venugopal.
"Opinion of the Ministry of Law and the Attorney General will be taken on how to proceed on to set up the trust that will fix the modalities for construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya," a senior officer said.
"Consultation process is ongoing but no decision has been taken so far," the official added.
It is not immediately clear whether the Home Ministry or the Culture Ministry will be the nodal body for the trust, another official said.
In a landmark and unanimous verdict on Saturday, the Supreme Court ruled that the entire 2.77 acres of disputed land will be awarded to the deity Ram Lalla, or infant Lord Ram. The five-member Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, also gave the centre three months to form the trust.
The centre's actions on Monday suggest it will take all of the available time to formulate an airtight way forward, in what is still a politically sensitive issue.
Muslim petitioners were given a 5-acre plot at a "prominent site".
The Sunni Waqf Board, one of the litigants in the long-running dispute, has said a final decision on accepting the offer of the plot will be taken later this month.
The court's verdict on the Ayodhya land dispute case came after a legal wrangle over the land on which the Babri Masjid, a 16th-century mosque, stood before it was razed in December 1992 by Hindu activists who believed it is the birthplace of Lord Ram.
The judges referred to a report by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) that confirmed a structure existed before the mosque but did not specify if it was a temple. In a 1,045-page order, the court admitted Muslims had been wrongly deprived of the mosque.
Nevertheless, the court said: "...on a balance of probabilities, the evidence in respect of the possessory claim of the Hindus to the composite whole of the disputed property stands on a better footing than the evidence adduced by the Muslims."