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

Continued from

The VHP is obviously seeking the acquired land to begin the construction of the temple from there.

Moreover, there may be opposition from the allies of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the Opposition parties to move to hand over the acquired land to the VHP trust. The Telugu Desam Party, which is the second biggest party in the NDA after the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Trinamool Congress, the Samata Party and the National Conference have already expressed their objection to the hand-over proposal. They all wanted the status quo to be maintained till the title suit is decided. The opposition parties have also voiced their view that the status quo should be maintained at any cost. In fact the Prime Minister, Mr. A.B. Vajpayee himself is not very much in favour of handing over the acquired land to the VHP till the court gave its verdict on the main suit.

Besides, there is the security aspect of the disputed area. What guarantee is there that the VHP kar sewaks would not encroach upon the disputed land once they are allowed to begin the construction at the undisputed acquired land? Though the VHP and the BJP leaders had given written assurances, the kar sewaks, who were allowed to do symbolic kar sewa at undisputed land in 1992, had demolished the Babri Mosque on December 6 that year. The VHP leaders are saying that they would first construct a wall dividing the disputed and undisputed land before the construction of the temple begins in the acquired land so that there was no usurpation of the disputed land by the kar sewaks. But whether such a wall will bear the might of the kar sewaks, who had demolished the mighty mosque nearly ten years ago?

The VHP had undertaken that it would wait for the court to give its verdict in the title suit before starting the construction at the disputed site. But several of its leaders have refused to commit themselves to abide by the court verdict if it went in favour of the mosque though the VHP supremo, Mr. Ashok Singhal, has given in writing that the organisation will abide by any decision taken by the court. The VHP leaders had been asserting that the Ram Temple would be constructed at the disputed site, come what may, as it was a matter of belief for the Hindus. Even after Mr. Singhal gave a written assurance to the Prime Minister Office that the VHP would abide by whatever verdict given by the court, several sants associated with the organisation had made it clear that they would not allow the mosque to be constructed at the disputed site.

Meanwhile, the central government has appealed to the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court to take up the hearing in the title suit in the Ayodhya dispute on a day to day basis so that the verdict in the case can be expedited. In an application moved before the three-member bench of the High Court, the additional solicitor general had pointed out that the testimony of only 23 out of about 200 witnesses were recorded in the title suit since 1994 and it might take many more years to decide the case if the hearing was not expedited.

The additional solicitor general maintained that though the central government was not a direct party to the case, it was incurring Rs30 crore annually for the maintenance and security of the acquired land in Ayodhya of which it is the statutory receiver. In view of the sensitive nature of the case also, the government has sought an early disposal of the case by the court.

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