SC sends plea challenging Ayodhya Act to Bench hearing Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid appeals

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Chief Justice Gogoi says, “We are sending it to that Bench. Let it come there.”

The Supreme Court on Friday referred to the Ayodhya Bench a plea challenging the validity of the Ayodhya Act of 1993 under which the Central government acquired 67.703 acres, including the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid (RJBM) premises and adjacent areas.

“List it before that Bench,” a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said.

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan, for the Muslim side in the Ayodhya title suit appeals, said the issue raised in the petition had been decided by a Constitution Bench in the 1994 Ismail Faruqui verdict. “We cannot have a review now, 27 years later,” he said.

Chief Justice Gogoi replied, “We are sending it to that Bench. Let it come there.”

The present petition has been filed despite the fact that the Constitution Bench, in its judgment, had upheld the validity of the Ayodhya Act except sub-section (3) of Section 4, which mandates the abatement of “all pending suits and legal proceedings without providing for an alternative dispute resolution mechanism for resolution of the dispute between the parties”.

The petition, filed by several persons, including two Lucknow-based advocates who claim to be devotees of Ram Lalla, has challenged the legislative competence of Parliament to acquire religious land.

Centre’s recent application

Recently, the Centre moved an application to return the acquired superfluous excess land adjacent to the disputed area to its rightful owners after mapping out the exact extent of acreage required to provide easy access and enjoyment of the RJBM area to the ultimate winner of the title dispute appeals pending in the apex court.

The petitioners had claimed that the 1993 Act infringed on the right to religion of Hindus guaranteed and protected under Article 25 (freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion) of the Constitution.

The plea sought the court’s direction restraining the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh 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”.

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