Ram Mandir Land Controversy Explained

18 Jun 2021  Read 700 Views

The land purchase by the Ayodhya Mandir trust has become a topic of controversy with two real estate dealers being accused of allegedly purchasing a property from an individual for Rs 2 Crore and going on to sell it to the Trust for 18.5 Crores, within minutes. The Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra is a trust set up by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government in February 2020 to check and manage the construction of the temple based on the Supreme Court verdict. The Trust was awarded almost 67 acres of land in the ruling and 12 out of 15 members are nominated by the Centre. 

What are the Allegations?

Aam Aadmi Party’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh along with Samajwadi Party leader Pawan Pandey levelled allegations of corruption in the land purchase accusing the trust’s general secretary Champat Rai of purchasing a piece of land that is worth Rs 2 Crore at an inflated price of Rs 18.5 Crore. They went on to call this a case of money laundering and requested for a probe into the land purchase for the temple premise by the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) and the ED (Enforcement Directorate). 

According to the AAP leader, Sultan Ansari purchased the land measuring 1.208 hectares on 18th March this year, from the owner Kusum Pathak for 2 crores. Minutes later Champat Rai, with the help of Trust’s members bought the same land in Bag Bjaisi village that falls under the Sadar Tehsil of Ayodhya district, for a price of Rs 18.5 crore from Sultan Ansari. They alleged that both the land agreements that took place within 10 minutes had the same witnesses, Ayodhya Mayor Rishikesh Upadhyay and a Trust member Anil Mishra.

Sanjay Singh stated that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government should take steps and initiate a thorough investigation by the CBI and the ED, and that the people involved in this corruption should be put behind bars as it is a question of faith of crores of devotees of Lord Ram, who have contributed their hard-earned money for the construction of the temple. 

At a press conference in Ayodhya, Pawan Pandey said that the piece of land was purchased at 2 crores in the presence of the witnesses, and asked whether the land start giving out gold that it was bought at such a high price, in just a few minutes?

Ram Temple Slams All Allegations

A day after the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust faced allegations of financial corruption that is worth several crores, the trust refused all the allegations against them and said that it had carried out the deal with great transparency and alacrity. In a statement, the Trust clarified that the sellers had executed contracts in their favour and a total of 9 people were involved in the plot’s purchase deal for the last 10 years. 

  • In March, 2011, four men signed an agreement with Kusum Pathak and her husband to sell the land for Rs 1 crore. This deal was valid till 2014. 

  • Again, in November,2017 the same four people registered another sale deed to the sellers for Rs 2 crore. 

  • This agreement was cancelled on September,2019 and on the same day Kusum Pathak and her husband signed another agreement to sell the plot which was valid for three years. 

  • The last agreement was registered to be cancelled on 18th March,2021 and on that day Ansari and Tiwari bought the land with an amount of Rs 2 crore. 

  • Ansari and Tiwari entered into an agreement to sell that land to the trust for Rs 18.5 crore out of which Rs 17 crore was paid in advance via online transaction. 

They sold the land to the Trust after the Bainama on 18th March. According to the secretary Rai, after the order of the Supreme Court, a lot of people showed up to Ayodhya in order to purchase land and as the UP Government is also purchasing a lot of land for development works, the price of the land suddenly increased. 

Moreover, the land in question is very close to the railway station, thus making it a very important location. Since the plot of land was found useful by the Trust, the concerned persons were contracted and the final due amount was fixed at Rs 1,423 per square feet, which is lower than the market price of the nearby land. Rai added that from Day 1, all the court fees and stamp paper purchase were done online and the trust was in favour of making all the payments directly into the accounts through banks and the same was followed in this case as well. 

The crux of these allegations stem from the fact that both the documents put up by the Aam Aadmi Party- the sale deed of the land from Kusum Pathak to Ansari and the Agreement between Ansari and the Trust that were executed on the same day. According to AAP, since both the transactions took place within a span of 10 minutes, therefore the price increase points towards a scam. However, things are not that simple as while both the documents were registered on the same day, that does not mean that both the sales were conceptualised on the same day.

It is important to note the following points as far as this case is concerned:

  • The original ‘Agreement to Sell’ was done between Kusum Pathak and Ansari in September 2019, for Rs 2 crores at the then market rates. 

  • At that time, there was no sale deed drawn up and hence, the title was not clear with Ansari.  

  • By 2021, the price of the land increased rapidly due to the Supreme Court Ayodhya verdict and Bhumi Poojan of Ram Mandir. 

  • The temple trust then decided to acquire that land from Ansari in 2021 for a value that is lesser than the market value– Rs 18.5 crores.  

  • When the decision to acquire the land was made, the trust said that there was already a sale deed for the 2019 deal as well.

  • It is because of this deed and the temple trust’s need to be transparent, that both transactions, the 2019 transaction between Kusum and Ansari and the 2021 transaction between Ansari and Temple Trust, were registered on the same within a span of 10 minutes.

  • All the documents can be verified from the UP-Government Website online.

  • The temple trust could not have purchased the land directly from Kusum at a cheaper rate because Kusum had received Rs 50 lacs as advance in 2019 and, therefore, she had to sell her land to Ansari first, for Rs 2 crores. Any violation would have resulted in another legal dispute for 5 centuries.  

  • As evidenced by the Forbes report, the rise in price is explained by the Supreme Court Ayodhya judgement where prices shot up in Ayodhya. 

  • Additional land is being acquired by the temple trust, beyond the 67 acres, because the temple trust wants to build facilities for the pilgrims.

  • The Trust also wants to ensure that there is enough space to build the Ram Temple in accordance with Vastu norms. 

About the Author: Antalina Guha | 29 Post(s)

Antalina Guha, is in the  5th year of B.A. LL.B course in Ajeenkya DY Patil University, with a core interest in Intellectual Property Rights and Criminal law.

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