The former Chief Justice of India, J.S. Verma, has categorically stated that the 1994 Supreme Court order on the acquisition of land in Ayodhya had specifically forbidden the handing over of any part of the 67 acres of acquired land to any party before the final settlement of the main Ayodhya title suit.
It was Mr. Justice Verma who had given the majority judgment in 1994, and today, talking to a television channel, he regretted that the order was being misinterpreted and distorted. "The entire area acquired by the law is vested in the Central Government and cannot be handed over to anyone before the title suit (the main dispute over the Babri Masjid and Ram Janmabhoomi) is settled."
He said that he was breaking his silence in "national interest" because "some people were misrepresenting what the judgment said". His was the majority judgment of the five-judge Bench after the Government acquisition was challenged. The Court had upheld the acquisition.
Mr. Justice Verma said that not once but repeatedly the judgment had stated that only after the main title suit (which is being heard by the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court) was decided, could the Government determine what part of the 67 acres of the acquired area was needed for what purpose. He signalled that it was wrong for anyone to claim that any part of the acquired land was theirs. As a result of the acquisition, the title is acquired by the Government... the original owners are divested of the title and even if the original owner has to be given back the land, then the title has to be re-transferred by a mode in accordance with the law," he said.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has been publicly staking its claim on the acquired land, saying that a large chunk of the acquired land, except 2.3 acres, "belonged" to the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas controlled by it. And some senior leaders in the Government and the BJP have been privately stating that if the Supreme Court vacated the stay on the activities on the land, the Government could hand over about 43 acres to the Nyas through an executive order.
Keywords: Ayodhya title suit