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Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991

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May 21, 2022

What is the issue?

Courts must act decisively to end the legal onslaught to change nature of places of worship.

Click here to know about the issue

How the judicial and political atmosphere affect the country’s secular character?

  • The idea that key places of worship among Muslims have been built after demolishing Hindu temples is beginning to take hold among sections of Indian society.
  • In the name of correcting perceived historical wrongs attempts are being made to change the character of places of worship.
  • To prevent such attempts Parliament has enacted the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 so that existing suits and proceedings abate and new claims are not entertained.
  • However the Supreme Court issued a verdict handing over a disputed site in Ayodhya to Hindu claimants.
  • This has emboldened some communal elements to make efforts to capture sites in Varanasi and Mathura where the Gyanvapi mosque and Shahi Idgah Masjid are located.
  • Also the courts has repeatedly allowed proceedings to be initiated.
  • In Gyanvapi case a civil judge has not only entertained a suit but has also ordered a commission to videograph the mosque to ascertain its religious character.
  • Even the Supreme Court feels that there is some inexplicable need to let procedural aspects of civil law to be gone through in such litigation.
  • It has transferred the Gyanvapi suit to the District Judge.
  • In Mathura, the District Court has overturned a lower court’s order and ruled that the Act will not bar a suit aimed at removing a Masjid in the name of the site being the birthplace of Lord Krishna.

What will be the implications?

  • As long as applications are pending somewhere, revanchist groups will continue the relentless onslaught on minority places of worship.
  • It is up to the courts to act early and act decisively to uphold the spirit of the Places of Worship Act and preserve communal peace.

Reference

  1. https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/act-early-decisively-the-hindu-editorial-on-the-bid-to-change-nature-of-places-of-worship/article65440210.ece
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