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Gyanvapi: Intervention application claims Places of Worship Act only applicable on principles of personal law, privately built places

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An intervention application has been filed in the Varanasi District Court, claiming that the Places of Worship Act, 1991 is applicable only on the principles of personal law or on privately built places.

Filed by Law student Nikhil Upadhyay, son of Senior Advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, the petition contended that only those places were protected under the Act, which were constructed in accordance with personal law of the person constructing them and places constructed in derogation of the personal law, could not be termed as a ‘place of worship’.

It said that Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs have the right to practice, profess and propagate their religion, as provided in their religious scriptures, adding that Article 13 prohibits from making such a law, which takes away their rights.

As per the application, the status of Mosque could be given only to such structures which have been constructed according to the tenets of Islam and Mosques constructed against the provisions contained in Islamic law could not be termed as a Mosque.

It further said that Muslims, therefore, cannot assert any right in respect of any piece of land claiming to be Mosque unless it has been constructed on legally-owned and occupied virgin land.

The application added that the property vested in Deity continued to be the Deity’s property, irrespective of the fact that a person has taken illegal possession and offered Namaz.

As per Nikhil, the Places of Worship Act 1991 cannot abate the suit-proceedings without resolution of dispute through the process of law as it was per se unconstitutional and beyond the law-making power of both the Centre and the State.

He said the provisions of 1991 Act could not be implemented with retrospective effect and the remedy of disputes pending, arisen or arising could also not be barred by the Act.

The Centre can neither close the doors for aggrieved persons, nor take away the power of District Court, High Court and the Supreme Court, added the petitioner.

He demanded the Court to allow the instant application for impleadment and permit him to be arrayed as a party Plaintiff in the Civil Suit No 693 of 2021.

The Court heard the arguments and fixed July 4 as the next date of hearing.

Case file: Rakhi Singh & Ors vs State of Uttar Pradesh & Ors

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