The Supreme Court on Monday permitted authorities to change the tarpaulin and ropes at the makeshift Ram temple at Ayodhya without disturbing the status quo on the 67-acre land adjacent to the disputed site.

A Bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai said the work could be carried out under the supervision of the two observers, the judicial officers appointed by the Allahabad High Court in March 2003 as commissioners to keep it updated on the situation at Ayodhya by visiting the town fortnightly.

The Bench said the judicial officers would “additionally see [to it] that the order of status quo is duly maintained.” It rejected the plea of the High Court’s Registrar to relieve the judicial officers of their duty as commissioners.

The Registrar argued that since the issues relating to the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site were before the Supreme Court now, the judicial officers should be relieved of their duty.

The Bench said it would not allow anyone to implead himself in the matter and would hear only those who were party to the dispute.

At the last hearing on January 28, the court made it clear that the status quo on the 67-acre land should not be disturbed while excavation was carried out in the vicinity.

The Supreme Court admitted several petitions challenging the High Court’ September 30, 2010 verdict, ordering three-way division of the disputed site, and stayed the operation of the order, which it termed “strange,” pointing out that none of the parties had demanded partition of the land.