Thursday, March 14, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

SC orders status quo in Ayodhya
Declines permission to hold bhoomi puja, shila daan

Petitioner Aslam Bhura comes out of the Supreme Court
Petitioner Aslam Bhura comes out of the Supreme Court in New Delhi on Wednesday after it rejected a government proposal for allowing "symbolic puja" in Ayodhya. Bhura had sought maintenance of status quo at the acquired land there. — PTI photo

New Delhi, March 13
Rejecting the Centre’s proposal for a symbolic puja in Ayodhya on Friday, the Supreme Court today ordered that no religious activity of any nature be allowed at the acquired land and status quo be maintained there.

In a setback to the Centre and Ramjanambhoomi Nyas-Vishwa Hindu Parishad combine, a three-judge Bench comprising Mr Justice B.N. Kirpal, Mr Justice G.B. Pattanaik and Mr Justice V.N. Khare, unequivocally ordered at the end of a 90-minute hearing that “no religious activity of any kind by anyone either symbolic or actual, including `bhoomi puja’ or shila daan, shall be permitted or allowed to take place.

“Furthermore, no part of the aforesaid land shall be handed over by the government to anyone and the same shall be retained by the government till the disposal of this writ petition nor shall any part of this land be permitted to be occupied or used for any religious purpose or in connection therewith,” the Bench said.

The interim order came on a writ petition filed by Mohammad Aslam alias Bhure, seeking the deployment of the Army, restraining Kar sevaks from reaching Ayodhya and seizure of the carved pillars lying at Karsevakpuram at Ayodhya and Pindwara in Rajasthan by district authorities.

The Bench brushed aside preliminary submissions of the counsel for petitioner and asked the Attorney-General as to why did the Centre think that despite the apex court ordering status quo in 1994, symbolic puja could be performed there.

Reacting to the apex court’s order, RJN President Ramchandra Das Paramhans said in Ayodhya that the March 15 programme of shila daan at the undisputed site would go ahead irrespective of the court verdict.

He asked kar sevaks to continue with their “work” even at the cost of facing wrath of the administration.

Attorney-General Soli Sorabjee said the Centre keeping in mind the sentiments of people thought it fit that symbolic puja could be permitted after imposing stringent conditions and restrictions which would not result in escalation of the situation.

While admitting the writ petition filed by Bhure, the three-judge Bench referred it to a larger Bench for “correct interpretation of the 1994 order of the apex court” in view of the Centre’s stand that the earlier order did not prohibit symbolic puja at the undisputed acquired land.

Electronic mediamen and photographers wait for conclusion of a Supreme Court hearing
Electronic mediamen and photographers wait for conclusion of a Supreme Court hearing on the Ayodhya issue at the court complex in New Delhi on Wednesday. — PTI photo

The Bench also issued notice to the Centre, the UP Government, the VHP, the Ram Janambhoomi Nyas and several other parties on the petition and intervention applications filed by the United Lawyers’ Front while asking them to file their response within four weeks.

The court said today’s interim order prohibiting any religious activity at the acquired land was “subject to further orders which may be passed in this case”.

Presenting Centre’s stand, Mr Sorabjee said the government while thinking of allowing the symbolic puja had thought it fit to restrict its performance by sants numbering between 50 and 70.

The kar sevaks would not be allowed to participate in the puja and only 1000 of them would be allowed to witness the same from a distance of 300 metres, he said adding they would be allowed in batches of 25 to go near the puja, which was to last for three hours starting from 2.15 pm on March 15.

While repeatedly reiterating that the Centre would strictly enforce whatever direction given by the court, Mr Sorabjee said the government while thinking of allowing a symbolic puja was firm that no carved pillars would be allowed to be moved near the acquired land.

The Bench observed that the permission given for the symbolic puja at the disputed site in 1992 resulted in the demolition of the structure despite undertakings given by the government.

“We direct that on the 67.703 acres of land located in revenue plots No. 159 & 160 in Kot Ramchandra village which is vested in the Central Government, no religious activity of any kind by anyone either symbolic or actual, including bhoomi puja or shila puja, shall be permitted or allowed to take place,” the three-judge Bench said.

Appearing for the VHP, former Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Ram Jois said the correct reading of the 1994 judgement was that the staus quo order was enforced on the 2.77 acres of disputed land.

He said the status quo order did not apply to the 67 acres of undisputed acquired land, of which 43 acres was owned by the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, and hence symbolic puja could be performed there.

The Bench said “at present even if it is the correct reading of the 1994 order, we will not allow any puja which will escalate the situation.”

Making a last attempt to get permission for the puja, Mr Jois said all the trustees of the Nyas, who started the movement 40 years ago, were over 75 years of age now and their last desire in life was to see the performance of a small puja there because they felt that the temple would not be constructed during their life-time.

The court said it would hear the Muslim Personal Law Board, the All-India Babri Masjid Action Committee, the VHP and other parties during the next hearing of the matter. PTI



Muslim leaders hail verdict
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 13
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) said today that it was opposed to the Centre’s stand taken in the Supreme Court to allow a “symbolic puja” on the acquired land in Ayodhya.

Expressing satisfaction with the apex court order disallowing any “puja” on the acquired land or the transfer of the acquired property till the final adjudication of the cases, AIMPLB leaders said the verdict had upheld the secular nature of the Constitution.

The secretary of AIMPLB, Mr Rahim Qureshi said, they regarded the verdict as the victory of the law and not as the victory of the Muslims of the country.

Maintaining that the law board had complete faith in the country’s Constitution, Mr Qureshi did not rule out the possibility of holding further talks but only with the government or those groups who had no role in the “demolition of the Babri mosque”.

Asked about the role of Shankaracharya in solving the dispute, Mr Qureshi said maps and written undertaking on the issue were not given to them.

If these are given, talks can progress even now, he said.

Several Muslim leaders welcomed the Supreme Court ruling prohibiting the VHP from holding “bhoomi pujan” on the undisputed land but regretted the stand of the government in the apex court.

Reacting to the statement, the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, Syed Ahmed Bukhari termed the court verdict as “the first victory of justice”. He hoped that other cases pending on the Babri mosque issue would be resolved through the court.

The Shahi Imam said all “secular” political parties in the NDA should now seek answers from the BJP for violating the promise made to them that the government would seek status quo from the Supreme Court.Back

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