New Delhi: While delivering the historic verdict in the century-old Ayodhya title suit case on Saturday Article 142 of the Constitution, which grants the Supreme Court special powers, was invoked twice by the five-judge Constitution bench.
The court said in view of the evidence, the disputed 2.77 acres of land was awarded for a temple, but it invoked the Article 142 to grant 5 acres for a mosque as well.
The five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi also exercised Article 142 of the Constitution to direct that the Nirmohi Akhara, an order of Hindu ascetics, will also get representation in the trust that the Centre must set up in three months to oversee the building of the temple.
"In exercise of the powers vested in this Court under Article 142 of the Constitution, we direct that in the scheme to be framed by the Central Government, appropriate representation may be given in the Trust or body, to the Nirmohi Akhara in such manner as the Central Government deems fit,” said the order given by the five-judge bench of CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer.
The court had earlier dismissed Nirmohi Akhara's suit (the third of the five lawsuits) as it was barred by the statute of limitation. The Article 142 of the constitution enables the Supreme Court to pass any order necessary "for doing complete justice in any cause".
The Article says: "Enforcement of decrees and orders of Supreme Court and unless as to discovery, etc (1) The Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it, and any decree so passed or orders so made shall be enforceable throughout the territory of India in such manner as may be prescribed by or under any law made by Parliament and, until provision in that behalf is so made, in such manner as the President may by order prescribe."
So while this order is "enforceable throughout the territory of India" it cannot become a precedent.
The Ayodhya title suit verdict comes nine years after the 2:1 judgment of the Allahabad High Court that ordered a three-way division of the disputed land between the three parties — Ram Lalla Virajman, Sunni Waqf Board and the Nirmohi Akhara.
The court had even invoked the Article to transfer the trial of a case against the accused in Babri Masjid Demolition from Rae Bareli court to a Lucknow court for the joint trial of two sets of cases arising out of the same issue.
The Akhara had challenged the Allahabad High Court’s 2010 judgement, saying that they had been devotees of Lord Ram for centuries and wanted shebait rights over the temple (the one in which the property of temple is vested) and argued that they had rights in the capacity of a manager of the deity’s property.
In the case against persons accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case, a two-judge bench had passed an order, invoking Article 142, transferring the trial of persons from Raebareli to Lucknow. The near complete trial at Raebareli was transferred to Lucknow in view of the pendency of the case for 25 years.
In October this year, the top court had invoked the Article 142 to annul a marriage of a couple living apart for past 22 years, even though the woman had not given consent for the divorce.
Previously, Article 142 has been used to bring justice to various deprived sections of society or to protect the environment, analysts pointed out. For instance, it was used for the cleansing of the Taj Mahal, the marble of which was getting yellow due to sulphur fumes from surrounding industries.
In December 2015, the top court had invoked the Article 142 to appoint Justice Virendra Singh as the Lokayukta of Uttar Pradesh, when the state had not made the appointment within the deadline citing lack of consensus. Appointment of the Lokayukta is in the government's domain.
Similarly, it was also applied in the Union Carbide case to bring relief to thousands of persons affected by the gas leak. Article 142 of the Constitution was also put to use in the release of thousands of undertrials who were in jails for periods exceeding their sentences, the analysts said.