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SC reserves verdict in Ayodhya case
March 06, 2003 16:42 IST
The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its verdict on the Centre's plea for vacating the status quo order on the undisputed land in Ayodhya.
Appearing for the Centre, Solicitor General Kirit Raval submitted before a bench comprising justices S Rajendra Babu, S S Quadri, M B Shah, N Santosh Hegde and Doraisami Raju that the 67 acres of undisputed land could be returned to the rightful owner.
The 1994 judgment envisaged status quo only on the 2.77 acres of disputed area, he said.
Therefore, last year's order ran counter to the 1994 judgment, he pleaded.
Raval said that the government was duty bound to preserve the secular fabric of the country, but at the same time it could not ignore the repeated requests of the Hindus for utilisation of undisputed land for religious purposes.
Raval said the Muslims should not take a rigid stand and ask for continuance of the status quo order, which had exceeded the 1994 judgment.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said for ten years status quo had been maintained both on the disputed as well as the undisputed land.
To alter the status quo, there had to be a substantial change in circumstance, he said.
He said the disputed and undisputed land was acquired under the Acquisition of Certain Areas in Ayodhya Act, 1993. This was done to facilitate proper access to the disputed site after the title suits were decided by the Allahabad high court.
He said till the Allahabad high court decided the title suit, the character of no area -- disputed or undisputed -- could be changed.
However, Raval stated that the disposal of the title suits had no bearing on the undisputed land as the status quo in the 1994 judgment pertained only to the disputed area.
He said the Centre was committed to maintain status quo in the disputed area till the title suits were decided.
At this point, the bench said, "Similar status quo assurances were given to the court, but what happened to them?"
Former UP chief minister Kalyan Singh had assured the apex court in 1992 that status quo would be maintained at the disputed site.
However, the same was not observed and the Babri mosque was demolished.
Raval said according to the 1994 judgment, the Centre would vest the undisputed land with other bodies.
To honour this aspect, the status quo order passed on March 13 and 14 last year should be vacated, he said.
He said the petition filed last year was for a specific purpose -- that during the puja ceremony at Ayodhya, law and order situation should not be affected.
There was no such situation now at Ayodhya and the petition had become infructuous, he said.
Appearing for the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Wakf Board, senior advocate Siddharth Shankar Ray said that the status quo order should continue till the disposal of the title suits.
He said the situation in Ayodhya was very volatile and vacation of status quo would amount to 'putting a matchstick on gunpowder'.
Additional Solicitor General R N Trivedi, appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government, supported the Centre's plea for vacation of the status quo order.
The Ayodhya Issue: The Complete Coverage