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Legal aspects of the Ayodhya dispute in the present context
By P M Damodaran

Lucknow: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has given an assurance that it will wait for a court verdict in the title suit in the Ayodhya case before starting the construction of the Ram Temple on the disputed site if the central government agreed to hand over the undisputed acquired land to the Ram Janambhoomi Nyas (RJN) before June 2 next when the 100-day yagna ends. But the legal hurdles may come in the way of the handing over the acquired disputed land to the RJN by the government before the court decides the title case.

Swami Jayendra Saraswati, the Shankaracharya of Kanchipuram, -- the latest mediator in the Ayodhya dispute -- has proposed to the central government to hand over the 67 acres of undisputed acquired land to the RJN by June 2 to break the present deadlock which was created by the VHP's announcement that it would begin the construction of the Ram Temple in the acquired disputed land from March 15. The Shankaracharya had also appealed to the All India Muslim Personal Law Board to agree to the proposal for beginning the construction of the Temple at the undisputed acquired land.

Irrespective of whether the Board agrees to the proposal or not, the central government will not be in a position to hand over the undisputed area to the RJN due to legal reasons. While upholding the Acquisition of Certain Areas Act 1993, the Supreme Court in October 1994 had ordered to maintain the status quo in Ayodhya till the title case was finally decided by the court. The apex court had further ordered that the fate of the "superfluous" acquired land could only be determined after the title suit for the disputed spot was decided. (The acquired land was divided into "essential" land and "superfluous, excess" land. The "essential" land was that part of land which was required to maintain the security of the disputed 40ft by 80ft area on which the demolished Babri Mosque stood before its demolition as well as access to it, whereas the "superfluous" land was beyond it). 

Moreover, the Supreme Court had pointed out in its ruling that the extra land was taken over by the government for a specific purpose. In case the verdict in the title suit went in favour of the Muslims, the court observed, "their access should not thwarted by denial of proper access to enjoyment of rights in the disputed area by exercise of rights of ownership of Hindu owners of the adjacent properties." Apparently if the construction is allowed in the acquired land, in no way the disputed area can be handed over to the Muslims if the title suit verdict went in favour of them.

The VHP had been trumpeting that there was no problem for the central government to hand it over the undisputed acquired land under Sections 6 and 7 of the Acquisition Act. But under Section 6 of the Act, the land can be given to a trust which was created after 1993. But since the RJN was created before 1993, the land cannot be handed over to it. On the other hand, under Section 7, the acquired land can be managed by the centre or a body. But this section stipulates that there should not be any change in the land till the title suit was decided which meant that no construction should be undertaken there as proposed by the VHP. Continued



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