New Delhi: The Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Friday directed the petition seeking return of excess land acquired in Ayodhya for hearing by a five-judge Constitution Bench constituted to hear the title disputes against the Allahabad High Court verdict awarding one third each to Hindus, Muslims and the Lord Ram.
After the Centre filed an application seeking permission for return of the excess land acquired in Ayodhya, in and around the make shift temple of Lord Ram, another petition was filed by advocate Shishir Chaturvedi and seven others questioning the Constitutional validity of ‘The Acquisition of Certain area at Ayodhya Act, 1993’ on the ground that the Parliament has no legislative competence to take over the property.
When this petition came up for admission before a bench of the CJI and Justice Sanjiv Khanna, the CJI said it would be listed for hearing before the Ayodhya Bench.
In a writ petition advocate Shishir Chaturvedi and seven others contended that the Centre had acquired about 67 acres of land in 1993 though such a vast land was unconnected with the property in dispute, which is only 0.313 acres of land. This plea is likely to be heard by a five judge Constitution bench hearing the appeals relating to the title dispute on the 2.77 acres of Ram Janmabhoomi land.
They argued that it was not disputed that the property in question situated at Ayodhya has not been declared as ancient and Historical monument by any law made by Parliament. This property in dispute at Ayodhya is important for Pilgrimage. It is a historical monument as well. The state legislature has exclusive power to enact law on those subjects and the Parliament cannot encroach upon the state power to enact law, they said.
The Hindus have right to perform puja, arti, bhog and other rituals at the places of worship in the temple, ashram, dharmshalas situated near the disputed structure.
The Union or the states have no power to stop puja and other religious activities at such places. Therefore the impugned Act is ultra vires of the Constitution in so far it restricts the rights of Hindus, the petitionrs claimed.
They pointed out that no public purpose would be served by acquiring such a large area at the cost of religious sentiments of Hindus. There is no reasonable basis to uphold the acquisition of such unconnected large area with the disputed site. The impugned Act is unreasonable and has been enacted at the cost of Hindu sentiments infringing their right to religion guaranteed by Article 25 of the Constitution and as such the same is liable to be struck down and the property returned to the erstwhile owners, the petitioner said and sought a direction in this regard.