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Supreme Court issues notice on plea against law barring litigation to change character of places of worship

The Apex Court has agreed to examine validity of Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 which barred litigation on any place of worship for change of its character as existed in 1947, except Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi case which was decided in 2019 by the Supreme Court.

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The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Centre challenging the constitutionality of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991.

The bench of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and Justice A.S. Bopanna issued notice to the Ministry of Home, Law & Justice and Ministry of Culture. The petition has been filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay. Today, senior advocate Vikas Singh and Gopal Sankaranarayanan appeared for the petitioner.

The court has agreed to examine validity of Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 which barred litigation on any place of worship for change of its character as existed in 1947, except Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi case which was decided in 2019 by the Supreme Court.

The petitioner has challenged Section 2 of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, and sought directions to declare it void and unconstitutional for being violative of articles 14, 15, 21, 25, 26, 29 of the Constitution, in so far as it seeks to validate ‘places of worship’, illegally made by barbaric invaders.

The petitioner has contended that the Centre by making the impugned provisions in 1991 has created arbitrary irrational retrospective cut-off date, declared that the character of places of worship and pilgrimage shall be maintained as it what was on August 15, 1947 and no suit or proceeding shall lie in court in respect of the dispute against encroachment done by barbaric fundamentalist invaders and such proceedings shall stand abated.

The petitioner has also sought the directions to declare that Section 3 and Section 4 of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 as void and unconstitutional for being violative of Articles 14, 15, 21, 25, 26, 29 of the Constitution, in so far as it seeks to validate ‘places of worship’, illegally made by barbaric invaders.

The petitioner has mentioned the following questions of law to be decided in the present writ petition

  1. Whether the Centre has the power to close the doors of Courts?
  2. Whether Centre has power to bar judicial remedy against illegal encroachment on the places of worship and pilgrimage?
  3. Whether Centre has transgressed its power by making provisions to bar judicial remedy available to aggrieved Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs against the wrong committed by invaders and lawbreakers?
  4. Whether the Hindu law is the ‘Law in force’ within the meaning of Article 372(1) after the commencement of the Constitution?
  5. Whether Section 2, 3, 4 of the impugned Act is void under Article 13(2) and ultra virus to Article 14, 15, 21, 25, 26 and 29?
  6. Whether any rule regulation custom usage having the force of law, running counter to Articles 25-26 is void by virtue of Article 13(1)?
  7. Whether illegal construction on religious places before August 15, 1947 has become void and non-est by virtue of injunction under Article 13(1)?
  8. Whether the exclusion of Lord Ram birthplace inclusion of Lord Krishna birthplace offends Article 14 as both are the incarnation of Lord Vishnu?
  9. Whether the impugned Act violates the principle of secularism as the same has been made to curb the right of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs to restore their places of worship and pilgrimage through Court?
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