NEW DELHI: The Congress on Tuesday questioned the timing of the Centre's application in the Supreme Court on the Ayodhya matter seeking permission to return undisputed "surplus" land to its original owners, saying people will decide on the intent of its "sudden" move which has come merely two months before the general elections.
The opposition party, however, said that it has "no opinion" on the plea for a change in status quo that has been maintained for 16 years and it was a matter between the Supreme Court and the Centre.
Congress spokesperson Abhshek Singhvi said the court had in its 2003 order clearly stated that status quo be maintained on undisputed land around the disputed site in Ayodhya and moving an application now raises questions on the government's intentions.
"You will draw your own conclusion, the country will draw its own conclusion. What is important is that this application is moved on January 29, 2019, 16 years afterwards, in a matter of 2003 where the main writ of 2003 is pending," he told reporters.
"This status-quo has been continued for 16 years. Suddenly and suddenly. You know it better, whether it is because of election or some other reason, we do not know 16 years later, they say please give me permission two months before elections to give that land to anybody and for that purpose please modify that order. So, you judge for yourself, but ultimate judge is the Supreme Court," Singhvi said.
The Congress leader also said, "We have nothing to do with this matter which is yet to come up in court. The court will decide. Whether the application will be allowed, dismissed, or modified, that is between the Supreme Court and the applicant."
On what the Congress felt was the government's intent in moving an application in the case now, he said, "We do not have an opinion and we do not intent to have an opinion on an application by you to be decided by the Supreme Court. Why should I have an opinion? You have to ask this to the central government."
Facing growing pressure to move swiftly on the Ram temple issue, the Modi government Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to allow it to return the "non-disputed" surplus land acquired around the disputed structure in Ayodhya to a Hindu trust and other original owners, in a significant move ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
The move could see some form of construction of a Ram temple by Hindu groups if the handover is allowed, amid pressure from the RSS and Hindutva groups on the Centre to facilitate this step. In its 33-page application, the Centre sought modification of the apex court's 2003 order to permit it to return 67.
390 acres of "non-disputed" surplus/superflous land around the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid structure in Ayodhya to the original owners.
The court had held that unless the dispute is resolved, status quo has to be maintained over surplus land.