Ahead of the general election Union Government’s petition on Tuesday seeking the Supreme Court’s permission to return the ‘undisputed land’ acquired in Ayodhya in the wake of the demolition of Babri Mosque came in for widespread criticism.
The petition was widely interpreted as a cynical ploy by the BJP and the Union Government to appease its constituency with general election barely two months away; especially in view of the clear direction of the apex court in 2003 and reiterated in 2011 to maintain the status quo on the 67 acres of land acquired by the Centre.
NCP member of Rajya Sabha and senior lawyer Majeed Memon described the petition as a pre-election stunt. Playing with the sentiment of the electorate, the petition in the dying days of the Government is designed to divert the attention of the people from the Government’s all-round failure to address issues of concern to people, he said.
“Instead of resolving the issue quickly this petition would further delay a resolution and complicate the matter; Proceedings will necessarily get delayed as the court will have to issue fresh notices to all stakeholders and then will have to hear them.”
The delaying and diversionary tactics was not lost even on affiliates of the Sangh Parivar. The irate Vice President of Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha and a party to the pending Ram Janmabhoomi case before the Supreme Court, Sardar Ravi Ranjan Singh exclaimed that Hindus had once again been fooled by the BJP, which he described as the Bharatiya Jihad Party.
Describing the petition as too little and too late, he asserted that the Government could have done it way back in 2014 itself.
Majeed Memon also declared, if they (BJP government) really wanted this adjacent land then why did they wait for almost five years ? The timing speaks loudly that they are afraid of growing anger among the sants and religious leaders of the majority community”.
Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi, also a senior lawyer, asked why the Government has suddenly woken up and questioned the Government’s intention. Singhvi cited the court’s March, 2003 directive which stated that until the title dispute was finally adjudicated, status quo should be maintained on all land including the undisputed land.
“ The SC directive is very clear but what is questionable is the Government’s move to seek modiication of that order ahead of the elections,” he said.
BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav, while talking to a news website, said “As you may have noticed, there has been some delay in the SC for one reason or the other. Finally, we decided this is the minimum we could do. If we can return the 42 acre land (to the Nyas), it'll be a good move”.
The Union Government informed the court that it had acquired 67.7 acres of land, including the disputed Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid site in 1993, and sought permission of the top
court to return the ‘excess’ land to its original owners. 42 acres of the 67.7 acres of land belongs to the temple trust.
The government had paid the compensation for 25 acres but 47 land owners of the Nyas demanded the land back and had declined to receive the compensation, it told the court.