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SC gives Centre time till Oct 31 to file response on pleas challenging Places of Worship Act 1991 – World News Network

New Delhi [India], July 11 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave the Centre three months to file its response on a batch of petitions challenging certain provisions of the Places of Worship (Special Provision) Act, 1991, that prohibit the filing of a lawsuit to reclaim a place of worship or seek a change in its character from what prevailed on August 15, 1947.
A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and Manoj Misra granted time to the Centre till October 31, 2023, after the Centre sought more time to file a response.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for Centre told the bench that the government is considering the matter and requires more time to file an affidavit.
“I am conscious of the fact that I have sought time for this before… but it is under consideration. Central government needs more time to file…,” Mehta said.
Earlier on various occasions, the Centre sought time to file an affidavit on the pleas.
Former Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy appearing before the bench said the Centre had been asking for adjournment on each hearing and that matter should be posted for final hearing.
Advocate Vrinda Grover said there is an application in the case seeking stay on the Act. She said across the country matters are being litigated while the Act is in place and as on today, the Act applies.
To this, the bench made it clear that there is no stay on the Act and mere pendency of proceedings doesn’t mean there is a stay.
The pleas challenged the Places of Worship Act, saying that it takes away the rights of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs to restore their ‘places of worship and pilgrimages’, destroyed by invaders.
Daughter of the Kashi Royal Family, Maharaja Kumari Krishna Priya, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, former MP Chintamani Malviya, a retired army officer Anil Kabotra, advocate Chandra Shekhar, a resident of Varanasi Rudra Vikram Singh, religious leader Swami Jeetendranand Saraswati, a resident of Mathura Devkinandan Thakur and a religious guru and advocate Ashwini Upadhyay among others have filed the pleas in the apex court against the 1991 Act.
The 1991 provision is an Act to prohibit conversion of any place of worship and to provide for the maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on August 15, 1947, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind had also filed a plea in the top court challenging the petitions filed by Hindu petitioners saying that entertaining the pleas against the Act will open floodgates of litigations against countless mosques across India.
India Muslim Personal Law Board had also moved the apex court opposing a batch of petitions challenging the validity of certain provisions of a 1991 law.
One of the pleas stated, “The Act excludes the birthplace of Lord Rama but includes the birthplace of Lord Krishna, though both are the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the creator and equally worshipped all over the world.”
The pleas further stated that the Act blatantly offends the right of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs to restore, manage, maintain and administer the places of worship and pilgrimage guaranteed under Article 26 of the Indian Constitution.
The petitions filed have challenged the constitutional validity of Sections 2, 3, and 4 of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991, which it said violates the principles of secularism and the rule of law, which is an integral part of the Preamble and the basic structure of the Constitution.
The pleas said that the Act has taken away the right to approach the Court and thus right to judicial remedy has been closed.
Section 3 of the Act bars the conversion of places of worship. It states, “No person shall convert any place of worship of any religious denomination or any section thereof into a place of worship of a different section of the same religious denomination or of a different religious denomination or any section thereof.”
Section 4 bars filing of any suit or initiating any other legal proceeding for a conversion of the religious character of any place of worship, as existing on August 15, 1947.
The Places of Worship Act 1991 is void and unconstitutional for many reasons, the plea said, adding that it offends the right of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs to pray, profess, practice and prorogate religion (Article 25), the petitions said.
The pleas added that it also infringes on their right to manage, maintain and administer the places of worship and pilgrimage (Article 26).
The Act deprives these communities of owning/acquiring religious properties belonging to the deity (misappropriated by other communities) And also takes away the right to take back their places of worship and pilgrimage and the property which belongs to the deity, stated the pleas.
The Act further deprives Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs to take back their places of worship and pilgrimage connected with cultural heritage (Article 29) and it also restricts them to restore the possession of places of worship and pilgrimage but allows Muslims to claim under Section 107, Waqf Act, the pleas added.
“It is respectfully submitted that the Central Government by making impugned provision (Places of Worship Act 1991) in the year of 1991 has created arbitrary irrational retrospective cutoff date, declared that character of places of worship and pilgrimage shall be maintained as it was on August 15, 1947, and no suit or proceeding shall lie in the court in respect of the dispute against encroachment done by barbaric fundamentalist invaders and such proceeding shall stand abated,” the PILs stated. (ANI)


Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from a syndicated feed of ANI; only the image & headline may have been reworked by News Services Division of World News Network Inc Ltd and Palghar News and Pune News and World News


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