New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday stayed an order of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court which attempted to partition the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya.
The country's apex court found it ''strange'' that the Allahabad High Court bench should attempt to partition the disputed land at Ayodhya as no party had prayed for it. The partition of disputed land has "opened a litany of litigation", it said.
"How could the high court engineer something like partitioning of disputed land on its own", the SC asked.
The Lucknow bench of the high court had in September last year passed a verdict directing partition of the 2.77 acre, on which the disputed structure once stood, into three parts among Muslims, Hindus and the Nirmohi Akhara.
The Nirmohi Akhara has traditionally been conducting pujas at the site for well over a century and a half.
Ordering status quo, the apex court said puja can be performed on the disputed land, but banned religious activity on the surrounding 67 acres of land acquired by central government in 1993.
It said the status quo as on January 1993 will be maintained.
"We are not disturbing anything which was going on", said a bench of Justices Aftab Alam and RM Lodha.
''A new dimension was given by the high court as the decree of partition was not sought by the parties. It was not prayed by anyone. It has to be stayed. It's a strange order,'' the bench said.
Expressing surprise over the high court's verdict, the bench observed, ''How can a decree of partition be passed when none of the parties had prayed for it.
''Court has done something on its own. It's strange.
Such kind of decrees cannot be allowed to be in operation,'' the bench said while staying the high court's verdict.
The court also issued notice to all parties on Allahabad high court judgment dividing the disputed land at Ayodhya between Hindus and Muslims.
This was the first hearing in the apex court after the Lucknow bench's verdict in the title suit delivered in September last year.
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