NEW DELHI — As the Supreme Court prepares to hear the politically sensitive Ayodhya land dispute case, the Centre said Tuesday that the entire 2.77 acre premises, within which the disputed structure stood before its demolition on December 6, 1992, cannot be termed as disputed.
The Centre claimed in its application before the the apex court that only 0.313 acre plot, on which the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid structure stood, was the disputed land.
Meanwhile, an advocate, representing a Muslim body in the Ayodhya land dispute matter, dubbed the Centre’s move as “political stunt” and questioned the delay of almost 16 years in seeking modification of the apex court’s 2003 order.
Facing growing pressure to move swiftly on the Ram temple issue, the Modi government Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to allow it to return the “non-disputed” surplus land acquired around the disputed structure in Ayodhya to a Hindu trust and other original owners, in a significant move ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
The move could see some form of construction of a Ram temple by Hindu groups if the handover is allowed, amid pressure from the RSS and Hindutva groups on the Centre to facilitate this step.
The statement made by the Centre, in an application, may have some impact on the hearing of the main title dispute case.
The hearing by a five-judge constitution bench, which was to be held Tuesday, was cancelled due to non availability of one of the judges.
The fresh application by the Centre was filed in another connected matter relating to Ayodhya in which the apex court in 2003 had directed to maintain status quo on the entire acquired 67.7 acre land, which included 2.77 acre land.
The advocate, on condition of anonymity, said, “What was the urgency to file such an application. Why do you want that order to be changed.”
“It is all a political stunt,” he said, adding that there was no need for such an application when the apex court has been on more than one or two occasions and even the Allahabad High Court had favoured maintenance of the status quo on and around the disputed site at Ayodhya.
Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgement, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land be partitioned equally among three parties ― the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.