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Supreme Court to hear all petitions challenging the Places of Worship Act on September 9

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The Supreme Court has decided to hear all the petitions challenging the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 on September 9.


The decision was taken on Monday by a Bench led by Chief Justice U.U. Lalit.

On September 3, the Muslim Personal Law Board of India had moved an impleadment application in a plea filed by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay before the Apex Court against the provisions of the Places of Worship Act.


The application stated that the Act was beneficial as it ensured normativity and positive law in the society and peace in the society.

However, the Act has taken away the power of the Court and Religious Sects to restore their places of worship.


The plea challenged Sections 2, 3 and 4 of the Places of Worship Act, on the grounds of Article 14, 15, 21, 25, 26 and 29 of the Constitution. The present impleadment application alleged that Upadhyay being a member of an elite party, which holds majority, can take the legislative route.


The application also alleged that Upadhyay had indulged in hate speech during a protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi in August, 2021, where he raised divisive slogans.


The application noted that these speeches were sufficient to dis-entitle him from invoking the jurisdiction of the Court in the instant matter or a general PIL jurisdiction.


The application alleged that the motive of the plea by Upadhyay was a political game plan.


It alleged that the party has a mala fide design to keep alive the communal and religiously sensitive issues in the country, to serve the political interest of certain individuals and organisations.

The petition further referred to a judgement of the Supreme Court in case of M. Ismail Faruqui (Dr) vs Union of India, where the court had held that no religious group has vested right to a religious place and the same should be kept away from the state intervention.


An impleadment request had also been moved by Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind in this writ petition filed by Upadhyay.


Retired Army officer Anil Kabotra had also challenged the validity of certain provisions of the Act on June 7, 2022, on the ground that it legalised the illegal occupation of the ancient and historical places of worship and pilgrimage by ‘barbaric foreign invaders’.


This was the eighth petition against the law that created a retrospective cut-off date and declared that the character of places of worship shall be maintained as it was on August 15, 1947. 


The previous petitioners included Vishwa Bhadra Pujari Purohit Mahasangh, Subharanian Swamy, Rudra Vikram Singh, Chandra Shekhar, Devakinandan Thakur and Swami Jitendranand had moved the top court against various provisions of the Act.

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