New Delhi: A petition was filed in the Supreme Court Monday challenging the constitutional validity of 1993 Central law on land acquisition in Ayodhya near the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site. The plea contended that Parliament has no legislative competence to acquire land belonging to the state.
The plea, filed by seven individuals including two Lucknow-based lawyers claiming to be devotees of Ram Lalla, submitted that state legislature has the exclusive power to make provisions relating to the management of affairs of religious institutions inside its territory. The petitioners submitted that the Acquisition of Certain Areas of Ayodhya Act, 1993 Act infringes right to religion of Hindus guaranteed and protected by Article 25 of the Constitution of India.
They have sought the court’s direction restraining the Centre and the UP government from interfering in “Puja, Darshan and performance of rituals at the places of worship situated within the land admeasuring 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”.
In the petition, it has been 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 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,” the petition said.
The petition has been filed within a week of the Centre, on January 29, moving an application in the apex court seeking its nod to return the 67-acre acquired land around the disputed site to original owners. The Centre had said it had acquired 67 acres of land around the 2.77 acre disputed Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid site.
The Centre’s plea has said that the Ram Janambhoomi Nyas (a trust to promote construction of Ram Temple) had sought return of excess land acquired in 1991 to original owners. The Centre has claimed that only 0.313 acre of land was disputed on which the structure stood before it was demolished by ‘kar sevaks’ on December 6, 1992.