A fresh plea was filed in the Supreme Court on Monday challenging the constitutional validity of the 1993 central law by which 67.703 acre land, including the disputed premises of Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid at Ayodhya, was acquired.
The plea, challenging legislative competence of parliament to acquire religious land, has been filed a week after the centre moved the Supreme Court seeking modification of its 2003 order and allow it to return to original owners the 67 acre of the "non-disputed" land around the disputed structure at Ayodhya.
The petition, filed by seven individuals including two Lucknow-based lawyers claiming to be devotees of Ram Lalla, has contended that Parliament has no legislative competence to acquire land belonging to the state.
Moreover, it said, the state legislature has the exclusive power to make provisions relating to the management of affairs of religious institutions inside its territory.
The petitioners, including lawyers Shishir Chaturvedi and Sanjay Mishra, submitted that the Acquisition of Certain Areas of Ayodhya Act, 1993 Act infringes upon the right to religion of Hindus guaranteed and protected under Article 25 (freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion) of the Constitution.
The petition has sought the court's direction restraining the centre and the Uttar Pradesh government from interfering in "Puja, Darshan and performance of rituals at the places of worship situated within the land measuring 67.703 acres acquired under the Act particularly at the land belonging to Shri Ram Janm Bhoomi Nyas, Manas Bhavan, Sankat Mochan Mandir, Ram Janmasthan Temple, Janki Mahal and Katha Mandap".
The petition contended that in view of the clear provision contained in Article 294 of the Constitution, the land and properties situated within the Uttar Pradesh vested in the state government from the date of the enforcement of the Constitution.
"As such the land and property situated at Ayodhya continued to be the property of the State of Uttar Pradesh. The Union cannot take over any part of the land of the State of Uttar Pradesh including the land and property situated at Ayodhya," said the petition, filed through lawyer Ankur S Kulkarni.
It has sought striking down of the central law and the declaration that the Act was "beyond the legislative competence of Parliament".
It also said that the law, by which the entire disputed and adjoining undisputed land was acquired, violated the freedom of the Hindus to practice their fundamental religious rights under Article 25 of the Constitution.
The central government, on January 29, had moved the apex court seeking its nod to return the 67-acre undisputed acquired land around the disputed site to original owners.
The 0.313 acre plot, on which the disputed structure stood before it was demolished by the ''kar sevaks'' on December 6, 1992, was within the 2.77 acre disputed premises, the plea filed by the BJP-led NDA government had said.
The government had then acquired 67.703 acre, including the 2.77 acre, through a legislation in 1993. The Ram Janambhoomi Nyas (RJN) is the owner of as much as 42 acre of the acquired non-disputed land.
The centre's plea has said that the RJN (a trust to promote construction of Ram Temple) had also sought return of excess land acquired to original owners.
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