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Ayodhya land dispute case: In-principle decision to return undisputed land, says Prakash Javadekar

Government sources said since the Allahabad HC judgement was made, it was felt that the “excess land can be restored”.

Jan 30, 2019, 07.28 AM IST
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Prakash Javadekar said the government would proceed through the legal process and in a constitutional manner as emphasised by PM Modi.
Weeks before the notification for the Lok Sabha elections, the Narendra Modi government moved the Supreme Court on Tuesday seeking permission to return the 67 acres the Centre had acquired in 1993, around the disputed site at Ayodhya, to the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, with an ostensible intent to influence a section of the voters.

“Only 0.313 acre in Ayodhya is disputed. In 1994, the SC had said the rest of the land around it is not under any dispute. The government has taken an in-principle decision to return the undisputed land and sought the court’s permission for it,” Union minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters in the Capital.

42 acres of the 67 acres belongs to the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas. The move is very similar to the one taken by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 2003, when it decided to return the undisputed land, but the SC had ordered a status quo. The SC had said in the Ismail Faruqui case that the government can take a call on returning the land once the Allahabad High Court gave its judgement in the title suit.

Government sources said since the Allahabad HC judgement was made, it was felt that the “excess land can be restored”. Though this decision came in 2010, the NDA government has made the move four and a half years after assuming power and just weeks before the Lok Sabha polls.

The aim clearly is to placate its core voters who have been pressing for construction of the Ram temple at Ayodhya. The decision to seek court’s permission to return the undisputed land puts the onus on the SC. There has been some desperation in the BJP rank and file over the apex court being proactive in giving verdicts on issues like adultery and the rights of LGBTQ, but not taking a call on a “70-year old case”.

Javadekar said the government would proceed through the legal process and in a constitutional manner as emphasised by PM Modi. He said the government was not touching the title suit land. Though BJP maintained that the step is apolitical, it dragged the Congress into the debate and alleged that the main opposition has a nebulous stand on the matter.

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