The government wants the status quo removed as far as the non-disputed Ayodhya land is concerned.
- Centre asks court to let it give land to trust overseeing Ram temple plan
- Top court had ordered status quo on land acquired by government in 1993
- Only 0.313 acres of the land is disputed, says the centre
The government today asked the Supreme Court for permission to hand over a part of the land near the disputed temple-mosque site in Ayodhya to the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas or the trust overseeing the Ram temple plan, in a move that is big on optics ahead of the national election due by May. The petition filed yesterday mostly showcases the BJP-led government's commitment to the Ayodhya cause as rightwing groups amp up the campaign for a temple at what they believe is the birthplace of Lord Ram.
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The government, in its petition, wants status quo removed on the non-disputed land, or the excess land acquired by the government in the temple town in Uttar Pradesh.
The government wants to hand over this land to the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, a trust founded by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to promote and oversee the construction of the Ram temple.
The Supreme Court had ordered status quo on around 67 acres of land that was acquired by the government in 1993, a year after the 16th century Babri mosque was razed by Hindu activists who believed it was built on the ruins of an ancient temple. Only 0.313 acres of the land is disputed, says the centre.
The Supreme Court was to hear the Ayodhya title suit today but the hearing was cancelled because one of the judges, Justice SA Bobde, was not available for medical reasons.
On Monday, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said that the temple-mosque case must be heard in court without delay.
"The Ayodhya case has been pending for the last 70 years. The Allahabad High Court order was in favour of the temple (in 2010), but then it is on hold in the Supreme Court now. This matter should be cleared soon," news agency IANS quoted him as saying.
Last year, the Supreme Court rejected an early hearing on the Ayodhya case, posting it to January.
Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi reconstituted the five-judge Constitution bench to hear the case after Justice UU Lalit recused himself saying he had been a lawyer in a related case. Justice Abdul Nazeer and Justice Ashok Bhushan were added last week.
The ruling BJP has been under pressure from right-wing groups, its own members as well as allies like the Shiv Sena to bring an ordinance to enable the temple construction.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, however, said that the government would wait for the judicial process to get over. "Let the judicial process be over. After the judicial process is over, whatever will be our responsibility as the government, we are ready to make all efforts," he said in an interview to news agency ANI earlier this month.