Supreme Court orders status quo in Ayodhya

New Delhi

March 13 2002

In a major setback to the Govt and to VHP, the Supreme Court today rejected plans for a "Bhoomi Pujan" near the disputed site at Ayodhya on March 15 and ordered that no puja or religious activity be allowed at the acquired land.

"No part of the acquired land shall be handed over to anyone by the Central Govt. The same shall be retained and no part will be allowed to be used for any other purpose till further orders," a three-Judge bench of the court ruled after submissions mainly by the Attorney General, Soli Sorabjee, lasting for nearly 90 minutes.

The apex court's order on maintaining the status quo came significantly after Sorabjee, representing the Centre, put up a strong case for permitting a symbolic puja by 60 to 70 sants for three hours at a site 300 metres away from the disputed spot in the acquired undisputed land.

No Kara Sewaks would be allowed to enter the acquired land, he submitted, adding law and order was being strictly enforced and no outsider would be allowed to enter Ayodhya.

The crucial order by the bench comprising B.N. Kirpal, G.B. Pattanayak and V.N. Khare came on a bunch of petitions including one that sought restraints on VHP's plans for a Bhumi Puja in Ayodhya on Friday.

The court admitted a petition by one Mohammed Aslam alias Bhure against the VHP's plans and issued notices to the Central and Uttar Pradesh Govts and the VHP while referring it to a larger bench. The bench said the larger bench would consider the correct interpretation of the 1994 judgement vis-a-vis the Centre's stand.

Ten paramilitary companies moved to Ayodhya

Lucknow

March 13 2002

Following the Supreme Court directive to maintain status quo at Ayodhya, the Uttar Pradesh Govt today moved another 10 companies of paramilitary forces to the temple town and alerted all districts of the State against any reactions to the apex court's order.

Ten more companies of the C. R. P. Force and Provincial Armed Constabulary would be moving to Ayodhya, said Principal Secretary (Home) Naresh Dayal. Already 85 companies of paramilitary besides police from Faizabad and other neighbouring districts are deployed in Ayodhya. With today's reinforcement, the number of personnel would cross the 10,000 mark. In addition, the Army is also on alert.

"The Supreme Court order will be strictly implemented. We hope the situation will improve and the court's directive would be accepted and honoured by one and all," Dayal said. He said following instructions from Governor Vishnu Kant Shastri, all districts have been alerted against any kind of reactions to the verdict, including celebrations, in view of the communally sensitive nature of the issue.

The Principal Secretary said while nobody would be stopped from offering `darshan' at the makeshift temple, not even one `Shila' (stone) would be allowed to be taken inside the acquired land, as per the court directive.

Muslim leaders hail Supreme Court order, flay Centre

New Delhi

March 13 2002

Several Muslim leaders today welcomed the Supreme Court ruling prohibiting the VHP from holding "Bhoomi Pujan" on the undisputed land but regretted the stand of the Govt in the apex court.

Reacting to the statement, Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari, while terming the court verdict as "the first victory of justice", expressed the hope that other cases pending on Babri mosque issue would be resolved through the court. However, he regretted the stand taken by the Government in the court and said "it is now crystal clear that the Central Government is not ruled by National Democratic Alliance but by VHP."

Attorney General Soli Sorabjee advocated allowing of "Bhoomi Pujan" at the undisputed land for three hours. "All the secular political parties present in the NDA should now seek answers from BJP and others for violating the promise made to them that the Government would seek status quo from the Supreme Court," Shahi Imam said.

Similar views were echoed by member of All-India Babri Masjid Action Committee Rahat Mehmood who went on to say that talks were no solution to the dispute and the problem should be addressed through courts only.