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Ayodhya Act bars Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas from acquiring land

The Ayodhya Act and the ruling of the Apex Court in the Presidential reference case, read in conjunction, are unambiguous that both the VHP and the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas cannot be given any of the land in Ayodhya, reports Venkat Parsa 

New Delhi: The Acquisition of Certain Areas at Ayodhya Ordinance, 1993 bars the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP)-controlled Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas from acquiring any portion of land at Ayodhya - not even any undisputed portion. The Supreme Court, in its verdict of October 24,1994, when it returned the Presidential reference on Ayodhya, had made it clear that the entire property - disputed and undisputed portions included - can only be managed by an organisation till finally the case is adjudicated upon. Similarly, Section 7 (2) of the Ayodhya Act amply makes it clear that no construction activity can take place on any portion of the land. It merely states that the land "shall be managed by the Central government or by a person or body of persons or trustees of any trust authorised by the government in this behalf." (See The Acquisition of Certain Areas at Ayodhya Ordinance, 1993)

This means the Centre had transferred to the new trust such responsibility as it has been carrying out. The Centre was playing the role of a "receiver" and for any portion of land transferred to a new trust under Section 6 (1) requires that as spelt out under Section 7 (2), the new body should play out the same role as the Centre - that of a statutory receiver, which means the status quo cannot be changed by commencing a construction activity, till the title-dispute is disposed of.

The entire land is covered by the Ayodhya Act, meaning that the land cannot be categorised into disputed and undisputed portions. The Centre had acquired all the 67 acres and the Supreme Court upheld the Centre's acquisitions.

The Ayodhya Act and the ruling of the Apex Court in the Presidential reference case, reading conjunction, make it abundantly clear that there is no space or scope left even for interpretation, as it is categorical. 

The Apex Court, in its verdict of October 24, 1994, returning the Presidential reference on Ayodhya, upheld the Central Ayodhya Land Acquisition Act. It also struck down Section 4 (3), which held in abatement all litigation on the Ayodhya issue. As a result, the original title dispute on Ayodhya land got revived. In effect, the Supreme Court reduced the Ayodhya issue to a real estate dispute, by directing the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court to adjudicate upon the title dispute.

In fact, Section 4 (3) stated, "If, on the commencement of this Ordinance, any suit, appeal or other proceeding in respect of the right, title and interest relating to any property, which has vested in the Central government, under Section 3, is pending before any court, tribunal or other authority, the same shall abate." With the Apex Court striking it down through its verdict on October 24, 1994, the original title dispute got revived. 

The significance of the development is that thereby, the Ayodhya land has become a matter of sub-judice. During the pendency of the title-dispute, no construction activity can take place. 

The VHP and the VHP-controlled Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas are legally barred from even staking a claim to the land at Ayodhya under the law. The law has to be changed to facilitate any transfer of land at Ayodhya either to the VHP or the VHP-controlled Nyas. Construction of any kind on any portion of the land at Ayodhya is not permissible.

The Ayodhya Act is categorical. It stipulates that the land can be transferred to "any authority or other body, or trustees of any trust, set up on or after the commencement of this Ordinance," (that is January 7, 1993). There is no ambiguity or even scope left for interpretation. The VHP-controlled Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas has already been in existence prior to the promulgation of the Ayodhya Ordinance on January 7, 1993, and thus it is legally barred from being given possession of the land. 

While Section 6 (1) of the Act bars the land from being transferred to the VHP or the VHP-controlled Nyas, Section 7 (2) enjoins the maintenance of status quo on the land so transferred to the new body, till the original title-dispute is disposed of. 

Section 6 (1) states: "Notwithstanding anything contained in sections 3, 4, 5 and 7, the Central Government may, if it is satisfied that any authority or other body, or trustees of any trust, set up on or after the commencement of this Ordinance is or are willing to comply with such terms and conditions as that government may think fit to impose, direct by notification in the Official Gazette, that the right, title and interest or any of them in relation to the area or any part thereof, instead of continuing to vest in the Central government vests in that authority or body or trustees of that trust either on the date of the notification or on such later date as may be specified in the notification."

Section 7 (1) states: "Notwithstanding anything contained in any contract or instrument or order of any court, tribunal or other authority to the contrary, on and from the commencement of this Ordinance, the property vested in the Central government under Section 3 shall be managed by the Central government or by a person or body of persons or trustees of any trust authorised by that government in this behalf."(tehelka.com)
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