Introduction of Places Of Worship Act:- To understand the Places of Worship Act related to the Gyanvapi Mosque controversy, it is very necessary to understand to root cause of this Gyanvati Mosque controversy.
Gyanvapi Mosque Controversy – Shivling Found in the Gyanvapi Mosque is a very controversial topic in today’s era. The videography survey of Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi by a court-appointed panel concluded on the third day today. A court in Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi today ordered that a pond in the Gyanvapi Mosque complex be sealed amid reports that a “Shivling” has been found in it.
The court has ordered the district magistrate to seal the area and prohibits the entry of any person to the area. Varanasi Court has ordered to open the basement of Gyanvapi Mosque and conduct an archaeological survey to determine whether the mosque was built by Mughul Emperor Aurangzeb atop the destroyed portion of the temple.
Five Delhi-based women moved to the Varanasi Court with their plea on April 18, 2021, seeking permission for daily prayers before the idols of Hindu deities on its outer walls. The Court appointed a committee to survey and videography of basements in the Gyabvapi-Gauri Shrinagar complex and asked it to submit the report by May 10. The survey was stalled amid objections by the mosque committee, which claimed that the advocate commissioner appointed by the Court did not have the mandated film inside the premises.
The court, on May 12, ordered the committee to continue the survey and submit the report by May 17. The Anjuman Intejamiya Masjid management committee of the Gyanvapi mosque has petitioned the Supreme Couer to stop the survey. The petition states that both the 1991 and 2021 petitions are against the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991.
Let us see the Places of Worship Act, 1991, and the Provisions and challenges to the Act.
History The Act was brought by the PV Narasimha Rao government in the background of the Ram temple movement. BJP leader LK Advani’s Rath Yatra was getting massive popular support and Further tensions rose high in the country after Advani was arrested in Bihar and Kar sevaks were shot at in Uttar Pradesh.
In this background, A Bill was introduced by the then-Union Home Minister in the Narasimha Rao Cabinet Mr. SB Chavan, to prevent communal unrest. While presenting the bill, Home Minister S B Chavan said:
“It is considered necessary to adopt these measures in view of the controversies arising from time to time with regard to the conversion of places of worship which tend to vitiate the communal atmosphere… Adoption of this Bill will effectively prevent any new Controversies from arising in respect of conversion of any places of worship..”
• “An Act to prohibit conversion of any places of worship and to provide for the maintenance of the religious character of any places of worship as it existed on the 15th day of August 1947 and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.” A very small Act with 7 Sections only.
Section 3 of the Places of Worship Act:- Bar of conversion of places of worship.- • No person shall convert any places of worship of any religious denomination or any section thereof into places of worship of a different section of the same religious denomination or of a different religious denomination or any section thereof.
Section 4 of Places of Worship Act 1991:-Declaration as to the religious character of certain places of worship and bar of jurisdiction of courts,
Section 4 (1):- 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.
Section 4(2):– says any suit, appeal, or another proceeding with respect to the conversion of the religious character of any places of worship, existing on the 15th day of August 1947, is pending before any court, tribunal or other authority, the same shall abate, and no fresh suit, appeal or another proceeding shall be instituted.
Provided that if any suit, appeal, or another proceeding, instituted or filed on the ground that conversion has taken place in the religious character of any such places after the 15th day of August 1947, is pending on the commencement of this Act, such suit, appeal or another proceeding shall not so abate and every such suit, appeal or another proceeding shall be disposed of in accordance with the provisions of sub-section (1).
• The Provisions of this section 4 of the Places of Worship Act are not applicable to Ancient sites of archaeological importance and are covered under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.
Section 5 of Places of Worship Act:- Act not to apply to Ram Janma Bhumi-Babri Masjid. —Nothing contained in this Act shall apply to the places or places of worship commonly known as Ram Janma Bhumi-Babri Masjid situated in Ayodhya in the State of Uttar Pradesh and to any suit, appeal, or other proceeding relating to the said places or places of worship.
Section 6 of Places of Worship Act:- Punishment for contravention of section 3—
(1) Whoever contravenes the provisions of section 3 shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to a fine.
Section 7 in The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991:- Act to override other enactments.—The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in any other law for the time being in force or any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act.
The Places of worship Act 1991/ Law is challenged two times
1. law was a contravention of the principle of secularism as laid down by the Constitution.
2. The Centre has barred remedies against illegal encroachment on places of worship and pilgrimages and now Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs cannot file a or approach a high court under Article 226. Therefore, they won’t be able to restore their places of worship and pilgrimage including temple endowments in the spirit of Articles 25-26 and the illegal barbarian acts of invaders will continue perpetuity,”.
• it bars judicial review, which is à basic feature of the Constitution
•imposes an “arbitrary irrational retrospective cutoff date”.
•One of the petitioners challenging the Act said “maintenance of status quo as in 1947 ln response, religious places is like closing eyes similar to that of pigeons against the advancement of cats. This… will means the preservation of tensions for the coming generations.
•The petitioners had also claimed that Section 4 of the Act discriminates between Hindus and Mus with respect to restoring possession of places of worship.
The validity of the Act has been upheld in the Ayodhya case
• “The Places of Worship Act is intrinsically related to the obligations of a secular state. It reflects the commitment of India to the equality of all religions. Above all, the Places o Worship Act is an affirmation of the solemn duty which was cast upon the State to pre and protect the equality of all faiths as an essential constitutional value, a norm the status of being a basic feature of the Constitution.
• The law speaks to our history and to the future of the nation.
•Historical wrongs cannot be remedied by the people taking the law into their own hands. In preserving the character of places of public worship, Parliament has mandated in no uncertain terms that history and its wrongs shall not be used as instruments to oppress present and the future”.
•”The Places of Worship Act imposes a non-derogable obligation towards enforcing our commitment to secularism under the Indian Constitution. The law is hence a legislative instrument designed to protect the secular features of the Indian polity, which is one of the basic features of the Constitution…”
•”The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act,1991 was introduced as a measure to provide and develop glorious traditions of love, peace, and harmony.”