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Supreme Court Rejects Presidential Reference on Ayodhya Case

This is from misc.news.southasia.
Sent By: S.Ramani, NCST, Bombay

* Supreme Court Rejects Presidential Reference on Ayodhya Case

          New Delhi, Oct 24 (PTI): In a historic verdict,  the supreme
court today  unanimously rejected the presidential reference seeking its
opinion on whether a temple existed at the site of the demolished
structure at Ayodhya and upheld by a 3-2 majority the validity of the
acquisition of land in the disputed area.
             The reference by the president under article 143
had sought the apex court's opinion on whether a Hindu
religious structure or temple had stood on the same spot prior
to the existence of the disputed structure.
         The unanimous view of the five-judge constitutional
bench was that the Ayodhya dispute had already raised a
religious storm and the dignity and honour of the apex court
would be compromised if it were to answer the single point
         ''Consequently the special reference made by the
president is superfluous and unnecessary and does not not need
to be answered. we decline to answer the reference and return
the same'', the judges ruled.
          In the majority judgement delivered by Mr Justice J S
Verma on behalf of the Chief Justice , Mr M N Venkatachaliah
and Mr Justice G N Ray, the court however struck down as
unconstitutional section three and section four of the act
relating to transfer of title of the disputed area to the
centre and the abatement of all suits relating to the property.
          The judges made it clear that section 3 and 4 were
severable from the act and therefore their being struck down 
would not not affect the validity of the acquisition by the
         While holding the act to be unconstitutional mr
justice ahmedi and justice bharucha held that section four
deprived the sunni wakf board and the muslim community to plead
adverse possession of the disputed property.
              The judges said vesting the property with the
centre would go against the principles of secularism and the
act was therefore slanted in favour of one community.
          They said since provisions of the act were
unconstitutional it cannot stand the test of validity and will
have to be struck down.
        The judges however agreed with the majority view that
since a place of worship was under dispute and law and order
was being jeopardised the centre can act as receiver of the
property pending final adjudication of the title suits.
          After the settltment of the suits the centre can hand
over the property to the party which succeeds in the dispute.
        The judges made it clear that the revival of suits on
the property dispute did not not bar the centre from pursuing a
negotiated settltment of the protracted issue. 
            In their dissenting judgement on the validty of the
act, the Chief Justice designate Mr justice A M  Ahmedi and 
justice S P Bharucha said they were not not able to concur with
the majority view as they held the entire act to be arbitrary,
unreasonable and slanted in favour of one community.
          The result of today's verdict by the apex court will
mean that all pending suits on title of the disputed property
will automatically revive together with interim orders passed
in the adjudication proceedings.
           The verdict was pronounced at 1505 hrs to a packed
court room as a battery of photographers and news cameramen
waited outside the chief justice's court.  
           Further the land acquired by the government soon
after the demolition of the disputed structure will continue to
vest with the centre '' which will act only as a receiver of
the property'' till the suits are finally disposed of.
         The court held that the status of the mosque is equal
to that of any other place of worship and does not not enjoy
any greater immunity.
          The judges said challenges to the acquisition of
areas adjacent to the disputed area cannot be examined at this
          Among the issues which came up for decision by the
court in the case was whether the undertaking given by the
chief minister before the nic and recapitulated and
incorporated in the orders of the court dated november fifteen
1991 could be said to be a personal undertaking of the cm or
tantamount to undertaking by the government alone.
         The court had also to decide whether any
constructional activity in violation of the apex court orders
as well as those of the high court had been carried out in the
disputed area by or at the instance of the state government and
the chief minister in wilful disobedience of the court
        The judges also had to decide whether the construction
activities were carried out by the state government and
authorities in connivance with and blessings of the chief
minister despite all reasonable steps taken to prevent it and
whether the state government or the chief minister was
          The judges said there was no shadow of doubt that 
substantial, indeed very substantial work involving tons and
tons of cement concrete had been deployed along with machinery
at the disputed site. ''perusal of photographs taken as well as
the report of the expert committee appointed by the court
justified the inference that large work force not not merely of
sadhus as stated by the government but professional workers as
well were deployed at the site for the construction''. 
   The majority verdict given by the chief justice Mr M.N.
Venkatachaliah, Mr Justice G.N.Ray and Mr justice J.S Verma
while declining to  answer the presidential reference said they
were returning the same.
     The dissenting judgement was given by the chief justice
designate Mr A.H.Ahmadi and Mr justice S.P.Bharucha. 
   The state government while admitting that construction of a
substantial nature had been carried out at the disputed area,
however pleaded that the state had nothing to do with
construction work which was done at the instance of the sadhus
who had congregated there.
    The state government had,however, addmited it had carried
out levelling operations with the sole intention of making the
land fit for use by pilgrims who had come to participate in
relgious activities.
    The government further stated that the congregation had
taken upon itself to put up a cement concrete platform. the
state while pleading exenuating circumstances for allowing
construction said it had considered it counter productive to
take drastic coercive methods to stop construction  as it
feared any provocation may result in a situation where the
ramjanambhoomi babri structure itself may come to be imperilled
by an infuriated mob. 

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