SC stays Ayodhya verdict
The legal tussle over Ayodhya has returned to where it stood 50 years ago, with the Supreme Court reopening the case and staying the Allahabad High Court’s last September order that divided the disputed land among Ram Lalla, Hindus and Muslims. “There will be a status quo and operation of the HC order will be stayed. It needs to be corrected at this stage. Such a partition decree could not have been passed. When we stay the operation of the HC judgement, the drawing of the decree gets automatically stayed,” said a bench of justices Aftab Alam and RM Lodha. This has quashed the hopes of a settlement of the dispute in the immediate future. The litigants in this case will have to begin arguments afresh for establishing their claim over the 2.77 acres of disputed land. The apex court has admitted all petitions that had challenged the HC judgement. At Ayodhya, puja will be permitted at the makeshift temple that came up after the demolition of the disputed structure. In its order, the bench stayed the September 30 HC verdict dividing the land equally between the idol’s guardian, Sunni Wakf Board and Nirmohi Akhara. The court also made it clear that there should be no religious activity, either by Hindus or Muslims, on the 67.703 acres of land surrounding the disputed area. The status quo on both 2.77 acres of disputed land as well as the 67.703 acres of surrounding land — acquired by the Centre after the demolition — was agreed to by the Hindu and Muslim organisations that had petitioned the Supreme Court against the HC verdict. The bench of justices Alam and Lodha was critical of the HC judgement that ordered partition of the disputed 2.77 acres of land. “The fundamental nature of the decree (partition of land) was not sought by any party. The high court has gone on a very new path. This is something very surprising. This is a case where entirely new dimension is given by the high court.” The bench, which allowed Sunni Wakf Board, guardian of the idol, Nirmohi Akhara and Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind to make their submissions, said the HC committed a “fundamental error” in deciding the title suits. “How can decree for partition be passed as the HC has done? Something very strange has been done by the HC on its own when no party had sought such a relief,” the bench said. Senior advocates Ravi Shanker Prasad, PP Rao, Ranjit Kumar, Rakesh Dwivedi and Anoop Chaudhary cited the status quo orders with regard to 2.77 acres and 67.703 acres of land passed by the apex court earlier. The bench adopted these judgements in its interim order.