It’s not been a year and another new long-run courtroom drama has begun. A case of disputed religious structures, a PIL by Hindu body has moved to the Supreme Court of India, challenging section 4 of places of worship (special provision) act 1991, in order to reclaim the land.
The petition was filed Vishwa Bhadra Pujari Purohit Mahasangh, in Supreme Court to sought the direction from the court to declare the section 4 of the act “Ultra Vires” that is beyond the legal power or authority and unconstitutional
The petition has raised for the Kashi- Mathura disputed land where two mosque stands. It said that: The Kashi Vishwanath Mandir in Varanasi was converted into the Gyanvapi Mosque and the Keshavnath temple in Mathura was converted into Idgah Mosque.
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- It was filed by Vishwa Bhadra Pujari Purohit Mahasangh
- It urged the court to declare section 4 of places of worship act as unconstitutional and beyond the legal power
About Places of Worship Act:
Section 4 (1) of the Act expressly provides, “It is hereby declared that the religious character of a place of worship existing on the 15th day of August, 1947 shall continue to be the same as it existed on that day.” It is this precise clause which the current PIL filed before the SC wishes to nullify.
The provision of law permits that the religious character of a place of worship shall continue to be the same as it was on 15, August 1974. Besides that, it also prohibits conversion of any temple into mosque and vice versa: means no person can convert a place of the religious denomination to other sects.
Highlights of the petition:
The petition filed says that:
- The impugned Act has barred the right and remedy against encroachment made on the religious property of Hindus exercising might of power by followers of another faith,” plea said.
- The result is that Hindu devotees cannot raise their grievance by instituting any suit in civil court or invoking the jurisdiction of the high court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India against high handiness of ultras and will not be able to restore back the religious character of Hindu endowments, temples, mutts, etc., from hoodlums if they had encroached upon such property before 15 August 1947 and such illegal and barbarian act will continue in perpetuity,” the plea claimed.
- “Parliament cannot close the doors for aggrieved persons and cannot take away the power of the courts of the first instance, appellate court and the power of constitutional courts conferred under Article 226 and 32 of the Constitution of India,” plea further added.
The act is violative of many provisions of the constitution as petition says:
The petitioners urged the Supreme Court to declare Section 4 of Act of 1991 as ultra vires to Article 14, 15(1), and the petitioners also, claim that the Act infringes the right of worship of Hindus guaranteed by Article 25 of the Constitution and “Deprives the right of Hindu community under Article 26 from maintaining and managing the religious properties belonging to deity usurped by members of the other community consequently void.
In the case of Babri Masjid – Ayodhya land dispute
The place of worship act does not apply to the Ram Janmabhoomi -Babri Masjid Ayodhya land dispute. Due to its prolonged litigation.
In giving the judgment of the case, the chief justice Ranjan Gogoi had dealt with the 1991 Act and said “That the law is a legislative instrument designed to protect the secular features of Indian polity, which is one of the basic features of the Constitution”.
History of the Act
The Places of Worship Act was brought in 1991, by the then PV Narsimha Rao government, at a time when the Ram Mandir movement was at its peak. And aimed at to be made to appear secular.