SC allows replacing of tarpaulin at makeshift Ayodhya temple

SC allows replacing of tarpaulin at makeshift Ayodhya temple
The Supreme Court today ordered replacement of "old and worn out" tarpaulin sheet, ropes and other material with new ones at the makeshift Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya.

"We direct that the authorised person/Commissioner Faizabad is permitted to replace the old and worn out tarpaulin sheet, jute matting, bamboo, polythene sheet and ropes over the makeshift structure by new ones of the same size and quality and exactly in the same manner as they were previously placed," a bench headed by Justice T S Thakur said.

The process of replacement of the old cover by the new one will be undertaken and completed under the supervision of the two observers who have been visiting the site, the bench, also comprising Justices V R Gopala Gowda and R Banumathi, said.

Meanwhile, the court has directed its Registry to provide copies of CDs, containing digitised records relating to the case, to parties and rejected the submissions that parties be allowed to inspect the records.

"The proper course would be to direct parties to appear before the Registrar and sort this out. It may be a long rope, but one must proceed in a methodical manner," it said.

Ruling out possibility of an out-of-turn hearing of the batch of appeals, the bench said, "The pleadings should be complete and the appeals must be ripe for hearing."

At the outset, senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan, appearing for one of the parties, supported the submission that old and worn out tarpaulin sheets be allowed to be replaced, contending it has been done earlier in pursuance of the apex court's order.

"You like it or not, there is a makeshift temple and it has to be covered," he said, adding the issue of replacing the worn out covers be treated as a matter "arising out of the observers' report".

Earlier, the replacement of the covers had been ordered on an application filed by District Magistrate of Faizabad. The bench did not accept the plea that the court should also depend on "digital records" as the original ones are voluminous. "We do not know whether judges handling the case would be comfortable. Do not depend on digital records. Better course would be that you all sit with the Registrar and sort it," he said.

During the hearing, it was pointed out that T M Khan, one of the two independent observers, has completed his five year tenure and the issue of his replacement has to be addressed.

The court granted six weeks time to the Centre to take a decision on this issue.

On the the issue of maintaining the "status quo" at the site, the bench today also permitted that the polythene sheet at the site be covered with six inches of soil.

Earlier, the apex court had admitted several petitions challenging the Allahabad High Court verdict of three-way division of the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya on September 30, 2010.

While ordering status quo at the site, which means that prayers at Ram Lalla's make-shift temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya would be going on as usual, the court had restrained any kind of religious activity on the adjacent 67 acre land, which had been taken over by the Centre.
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