The government wants the status quo removed as far as the non-disputed Ayodhya land is concerned.
NEW DELHI: The government today asked for the Supreme Court's permission to hand over land in Ayodhya near the disputed temple-mosque site 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 ruling BJP said the idea was to return the land to its original owners, who want to build a Ram temple. "We want to give the land back to the Janmabhoomi Nyas, they want to build a temple there; that land has to be given back to them," said union minister Prakash Javadekar.
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"The centre is not touching the disputed area where the title suit is pending," said Prakash Javadekar. "The BJP always believed that the temple has already been built and it has to be made magnificent," he added.
In a move that is mostly symbolic, the centre has asked the court to end status quo on the non-disputed land, or the excess land acquired by the government in the temple town in Uttar Pradesh in 1993.
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.
The Supreme Court had ordered status quo on around 67 acres of land that was acquired by the government 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.
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.
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.