Plea in SC challenges validity of land acquisition law in Ayodhya

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 05 Feb 2019 09:12:05



The plea filed by seven individuals submitted that State Legislature has the exclusive power to make provisions relating to management of affairs of religious institutions inside its territory

A FRESH plea was filed in the Supreme Court on Monday challenging the constitutional validity of the 1993 Central law by which 67.703 acre land, including the disputed premises of Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid at Ayodhya, was acquired. The plea, challenging legislative competence of Parliament to acquire religious land, has been filed a week after the Centre moved the apex court seeking modification in of its 2003 order and allow it to return to original owners the 67 acre of the “non-disputed” land around the disputed structure at Ayodhya.

The petition, filed by seven individuals including Lucknow-based lawyers claiming to be devotees of Ram Lalla, has contended that Parliament has no legislative competence to acquire land belonging to State. Moreover, it said, the State Legislature has exclusive power to make provisions relating to management of affairs of religious institutions inside its territory. The petitioners submitted that the Acquisition of Certain Areas of Ayodhya Act, 1993 Act infringes upon 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 has 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 measuring 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”.

The petition 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 be 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,” said the petition, filed by lawyer Ankur S Kulkarni. It has sought striking down of the Central law and the declaration that the Act was “beyond the legislative competence of Parliament”.