A petition was filed in the Supreme Court on Monday challenging the constitutional validity of The Acquisition of Certain Area At Ayodhya Act, 1993. The law, which transfers disputed land to the central government, was challenged on the grounds that Parliament has no legislative power to take over property belonging to the state, Bar and Bench reported.

The petitioner claimed that the state legislature has the exclusive power to make provisions relating to management of religious institutions in the state. The petition added that the law also infringes on the right to religion of Hindus, as outlined under Article 25 of the Indian Constitution.

Last week, the Centre had moved an application in the top court on the Ayodhya land dispute, seeking its permission to return all excess acquired land at the site to the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas. The government filed an interlocutory application seeking modification of the court’s March 2003 judgement to restore the surplus land, which is not part of the dispute, to the trust, which was formed to promote and oversee the construction of a Ram temple.

In 2003, the court had barred religious activity of any kind on 67.703 acres of land located in revenue plot numbers 159 and 160 in the village of Kot Ramchandra that is “vested in the central government”. The government’s petition said that only 0.313 acres of the entire 2.77 acre premises was disputed.

A five-member Constitution bench of the Supreme Court is hearing the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute case. On January 29, it postponed the hearing, but did not announce a new date. The hearing was postponed as one of the judges, Justice SA Bobde, was unavailable.