Another plea challenging Places of Worship Act 1991 filed in SC

On Wednesday, another plea was filed by a religious leader Swami Jeetendranand Saraswati against the 1991 Act.

New Delhi: One more plea challenging the Constitutional validity of certain sections of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991, saying that the Act violates the principles of secularism, was filed in the Supreme Court on Thursday.

The plea filed by Rudra Vikram Singh, resident of Varanasi, challenged the constitutional validity of Sections 2, 3, and 4 of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991.

According to Vikram’s plea, the said sections offend Articles 14, 15, 21, 25, 26, and 29 and violate the principles of secularism and the rule of law, which are an integral part of the Preamble and the basic structure of the Constitution.

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“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 cut off date, declared that character of places of worship and pilgrimage shall be maintained as it was on 15 August 1947 and no suit or proceeding shall lie in the court in respect to the dispute against encroachment done by barbaric fundamentalist invaders and such proceeding shall stand abated,” the PIL stated.

Yesterday on Wednesday, another plea was filed by a religious leader Swami Jeetendranand Saraswati against the 1991 Act.

That plea said that Sections 2, 3, and 4 of the Act have taken away the right to approach the Court and thus the 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 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’ their religion (Article 25).

“The Act infringes on the rights of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs to manage, maintain and administer the places of worship and pilgrimage (Article 26),” it added.

Both the pleas further stated that the Act further deprives Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs of owning/acquiring religious properties belonging to their deity (misappropriated by other communities). “It also takes away right of judicial remedy of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs to take back their places of worship and pilgrimage and the property which belong to the deity,” the pleas added.

“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 Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs to restore the possession of places of worship and pilgrimage but allows Muslims to claim under Section 107, Waqf Act,” it said.

The petition further stated, “The Act legalizes the barbarian acts of invaders. It violates the doctrine of Hindu law that ‘Temple property is never lost even if enjoyed by strangers for years and even the king cannot take away property as the deity is the embodiment of God and is juristic person, represents ‘Infinite the timeless’ and cannot be confined by the shackles of time.”

The plea, therefore, sought direction to declare that Section 2, 3 and 4 of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 is void and unconstitutional for being violative of Articles 14, 15, 21, 25, 26, 29 of the Constitution of India so far as it legalises ‘the ancient historical and puranic places of worship and pilgrimage’, illegally occupied by foreign invaders.

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