Ayodhya hearing: With SC verdict expected soon, Narendra Modi govt draws up legal options to avoid confusion in wake of judgment

Sanjay Singh

Editor's note: This article was originally published on 6 November. It is being republished in light of the CJI Ranjan Gogoi-led Supreme Court bench being slated to deliver the verdict in the Ayodhya land dispute case on Saturday at 10.30 am.

The Supreme Court is likely to pronounce its verdict in the Ayodhya dispute before 17 November, and the Central government is presently preparing for the different possibilities that may arise in the wake of the order. Meanwhile, the BJP and the Sangh Parivar are also mulling their future courses of action.

Broadly there are three possibilities pertaining to the case. The judgment may be entirely in favour of the Hindu litigants, or it may be entirely in favour of the Muslim litigants, or it may be broadly in favour of the Hindu groups but may give some space to Muslim parties within or just outside the disputed site. RSS and BJP leaders are conscious that the judgment may inflame popular passions, and the top brass is taking measures to ensure that everyone respects the court order and maintains calm.

Presently, a de-facto Ram temple exists at the disputed site. According to the Central government, the dispute is over a plot of land that measures 0.313 acres, or about an area over 140 x 100 feet. It was over this piece of land that the Babri Masjid stood before it was demolished by 'kar sevaks' on 6 December, 1992. This is within a larger premises that is spread over 2.77 acres.

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Surrounding these premises is a plot of land measuring 67.703 acres, which originally belonged to the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, Manas Bhavan, Sankat Mochan Mandir, Ram Janmasthan Temple, Janki Mahal and Katha Mandap (Hindu religious institutions that are broadly aligned with the VHP). This land was acquired by the PV Narasimha Rao government in January 1992 under the Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Ordinance. The ordinance was later ratified by Parliament. The entire area is barricaded and guarded by central paramilitary forces. Of this land area of over 67 acres, the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas (represented in court as Ram Lalla Virajman) owned 42 acres.

A top leader in the ruling dispensation, on the condition of anonymity, told Firstpost that even if the judgment is in favour of the Hindu parties, the government will need to intervene and bring in a legislation. The objective of this legislation will have to be bringing clarity on which entity will construct and manage the Ram temple, and who will take possession of the 67 acres of land that are not in dispute but are in the possession of the Centre.

A law will have to clearly spell out whether a trust needs to be formed, or whether some other measure needs to be taken, so that there is no scope for confusion.

The need to pass a legislation will be even greater if the verdict is not entirely in favour of one side, or if the disputed land is to be distributed among the litigants, as ordered by the Allahabad High Court in 2010. The Allahabad High Court's judgment had been contested by all the parties.

Another issue that is being debated is if the legislation will have to be passed by the Union government or the Uttar Pradesh state government.

It is significant to note that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his interview to ANI, had said that the government is conscious of its responsibility and will play its part once the verdict on Ayodhya is pronounced by the Supreme Court. Sources said that top RSS leaders were informed about Modi's position on the subject.

Also See: What is Ayodhya case: From Babar era to numerous court orders, how fait accompli always dictated fate of disputed site

Ayodhya land dispute case: National Security Act will be imposed if needed, says UP DGP OP Singh ahead of verdict

Ahead of Ayodhya verdict, Centre tells state govts to remain alert, deploys 4,000 personnel to UP; RPF ups vigil at likely 'flashpoints'

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