Who are the trustees of the Ayodha Ram Temple Trust?

Grand Ram temple in Ayodhya before 2022.
Image for representation only.

The Trust, named Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra, will have its registered office at the Delhi residence of legal luminary and two-time Attorney General of India K Parasaran, who will helm it.

The Centre on Wednesday constituted an independent 15-member Trust to oversee the construction of a “grand and magnificent” Ram temple in Ayodhya. The announcement was made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha just four days before the expiry of a 3-month deadline set by the Supreme Court.

"This topic is close to my heart like millions of countrymen and I consider it my great fortune to talk about it," Modi added.

The development came as Delhi was gearing up for the Assembly elections. However, the Election Commission said its approval was "not required" for the government to announce the trust.

The Trust, named Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra, will have its registered office at the Delhi residence of legal luminary and two-time Attorney General of India K Parasaran, who will helm it. The government has named other members of the Trust too, officials said. One of them will be a representative from the Dalit community.

Who is Parasaran at the helm of the Trust?

Parasaran was the lead counsel for the Hindu parties in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute case in Ayodhya and he successfully argued for possession of the entire disputed land in the Supreme Court in favour of the deity "Ram Lalla Virajman".

An erudite Hindu scholar who often quoted from Hindu scriptures in his arguments, Parasaran was referred to as the 'Pitamaha' of the India Bar by Supreme Court judge and former chief justice of Madras High Court Sanjay Kishan Kaul for his contribution to the law without compromising with his 'dharma'.

He started practising in the top court in 1958.

He had also appeared for the Nair Service Society (NSS) in the Sabarimala case to defend the ban on the entry of menstruating women in the temple.

Parasaran also argued against eminent jurist Nani Palkhivala on crucial Constitution cases.

During the Emergency, he was the Advocate General of Tamil Nadu and appointed as the Solicitor General of India in 1980. He served as Attorney General of India from 1983 to 1989. In 1985, he had advised the government as the Solicitor General, against acting on the show-cause notice issued to demolish the Indian Express building as it was legally untenable.

When the Indira Gandhi government ignored his opinion, he refused to defend the government in court and offered to resign. Despite this, he was promoted as the Attorney General by the government.

"Senior Parasaran", as he is referred to in legal circles, had also come to the rescue of Priyanka Gandhi in a family court at Tis Hazari in 1997. In the case, a man, later found mentally unstable, had petitioned the court, days before she was to get married to Robert Vadra, claiming that Priyanka was already married to him.

Former prime minister AB Vajpayee had also appointed him as member of the drafting and editorial committee tasked with reviewing the working of the Constitution.

The Vajpayee-led NDA government awarded him the Padma Bhushan and the Manmohan Singh led UPA-1 government awarded him the Padma Vibhushan and also nominated him to the Upper House. He had defended the National Judicial Appointments Commission as a member of Rajya Sabha in 2014.

The senior counsel was also presented "Most Eminent Senior Citizen Award" by Vice President Venkaiah Naidu in October 16, 2019. Born in Tamil Nadu's Srirangam in 1927, Parasaran's father Kesava Aiyengar was a lawyer and Vedic scholar who practised at the Madras High Court and the Supreme Court. Parasaran's three sons, Mohan, Satish and Balaji, are also lawyers. Mohan Parasaran served as the Solicitor General in the UPA-II government and now the fourth generation of the Parasarans are also in the legal profession.

Who are the other members of the Trust?

The members include senior lawyer K. Parasaran, Jagatguru Shankracharya, Jyothishpeethadheeshwar Swami Vasudevanand Saraswati Ji Maharaj from Allahabad, Jagatguru Madhavacharya Swami Vishwa Prasannatheerth Ji Maharaj, Pejawar Math in Udupi, Yugpurush Paramanand Ji Maharaj from Haridwar, Swami Govinddev Giri Ji Maharaj from Pune and Vimlendra Mohan Pratap Mishra from Ayodhya.

Besides, the following will also be the trustees, Anil Mishra, a homoeopathic doctor from Ayodhya and Kameshwar Chaupal from Patna who is a Scheduled Caste member, and Mahant Dinendra Das, Nirmohi Akhara, Ayodhya Baithak.

Two prominent people who shall be a practising Hindu will be nominated by the board of trustees with a majority resolution. One representative will be nominated by the Centre who shall be a practising Hindu by religion and a serving member of the IAS and who shall not be below the rank of joint secretary to government of India, and shall be an ex officio member.

One representative will be nominated by the UP government who shall be a practising Hindu and an IAS officer not below the rank of secretary to the UP government. The Ayodhya district collector will be the ex officio trustee, who shall be a practising Hindu.

If for any reason the incumbent collector is not a practising Hindu, the additional collector of Ayodhya who shall be a practising Hindu shall be an ex officio member. The chairman of the committee for the development and administration of matters relating to the Ram Temple complex, who will be appointed by the Board of Trustees, who shall be a practising Hindu shall be an ex officio member.

Government donates Rs 1

The government on Wednesday made the first donation of Rs 1 in cash to the 'Shri Ram Janmbhoomi Teerth Kshetra' Trust to begin its work of constructing the Ram temple in Ayodhya, officials said.

D. Murmu, an under-secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, contributed the amount to the Trust on behalf of the central government.

The Trust will accept donations, grants, subscriptions, aids or contribution from any person in cash, kind, including immovable properties, without any conditions, the official said.

PM Modi said that, keeping in mind the construction of the temple and the spirit of the devotees who would come to pay obeisance to Ram Lalla in future, the government has taken another important decision to transfer the whole of the approx 67.703 acre acquired land to the new Trust.

"We all know the historical and spiritual significance that is attached to Lord Ram and Ayodhya, in the Indian ethos, spirit, ideals and culture. Let us all support construction of a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya," he said, amid shouting of "Jai Shri Ram" slogans from the treasury benches.

The UP government also gave the allotment letter to the Sunni Waqf board for the land in Dhannipur village in Sohawal tehsil in Ayodhya on the Lucknow highway, about 18 km from the district headquarters, state government spokesperson Shrikant Sharma told reporters in Lucknow. The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath earlier in the day.

Earlier, Union Home Minister Amit Shah congratulated the prime minister"for such an unprecedented decision" that strengthens social harmony. "I fully believe that the waiting of millions of people for centuries will be over soon and they will be able to pay obeisance to Lord Shri Ram in his grand temple at his birthplace," he added.

Shah thanked the prime minister for his commitment for construction of a temple dedicated to Lord Ram, "who is a symbol of faith and unwavering reverence of India".

With inputs from PTI/The Week.

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