Plea In SC Challenges Validity Of Certain Sections Of Places Of Worship (Special Provisions) Act
New Delhi, Jun 7 (PTI) A fresh petition has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the validity of certain sections of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, alleging that the Centre has arbitrarily created an irrational retrospective cut-off date and declared that the character of places of worship shall be maintained as it was on August 15, 1947.
The plea, filed by a retired Army officer, has challenged the constitutional validity of sections 2, 3, and 4 of the 1991 Act claiming that they violate the principles of secularism.
While section 3 of the Act deals with the bar of conversion of places of worship, section 4 pertains to the declaration as to the religious character of certain places of worship and the bar of jurisdiction of courts.
“By making the impugned Act, Centre has arbitrarily created an irrational retrospective cut-off date, declared that character of places of worship shall be maintained as it was on August 15, 1947, and no suit or proceeding shall lie in court in respect of disputes against encroachment done by barbaric invaders and lawbreakers and such proceeding shall stand abated,” said the plea, filed through advocate Ashwani Kumar Dubey.
In his plea, petitioner Anil Kabotra has claimed that the Centre has “transgressed its legislative power” by barring remedy of judicial review which is the basic feature of the Constitution.
The petition alleged that the injury caused to the Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs is “extremely large” because sections 2, 3, and 4 of the 1991 Act have taken away the right to approach the court and thus, the right to judicial remedy has been closed.
It said the “Centre neither can close the doors of courts of the first instance, appellate courts, constitutional courts for aggrieved Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs, nor take away the power of High courts and Supreme Court, conferred under Article 226 and 32.” It claimed that the Act has barred the right and remedy against encroachment made on religious places of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs.
The plea has sought to declare that sections 2, 3, and 4 of the 1991 Act are “void and unconstitutional” for allegedly being violative of Articles, including 14 (equality before law), 26 (freedom to manage religious affairs), and 29 (protection of interests of minorities) of the Constitution, in so far as it legalises the ancient and historical places of worship and pilgrimage, illegally occupied by the “barbaric foreign invaders”.
It said while enacting the Act, the Centre has excluded the birthplace of Lord Ram at Ayodhya but not the birthplace of Lord Krishna in Mathura, though both are the incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
Several other pleas, including the one filed by BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, challenging the validity of certain provisions of the 1991 Act has already been filed in the apex court.
Recently, the Muslim body Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind has filed a plea in the top court seeking intervention in a pending petition which has challenged the constitutional validity of sections 2, 3, and 4 of the 1991 Act.
Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind has said that petitioner Ashwini Upadhyay has raised grounds that have already been considered and decided by the constitution bench of the top court.
Even if all the allegations of the petitioner are assumed to be true, it is nothing but seeking a correction of historical wrongs, the Muslim body has said.
The top court in March last year had sought the Centre's response to a plea challenging the validity of certain provisions of the 1991 law, which 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.
The petition has alleged that the 1991 law creates an 'arbitrary and irrational retrospective cut-off date' of August 15, 1947, for maintaining the character of the places of worship or pilgrimage against encroachment done by 'fundamentalist-barbaric invaders and law-breakers'.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without any modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)
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