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8th petition against Places of Worship Act filed in Supreme Court

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A retired Army officer on Tuesday filed a petition in the Supreme Court, challenging the Constitutional validity of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991.

Anil Kabotra filed the plea before the Apex Court, which challenged the constitutional validity of Sections 2, 3, and 4 of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991, stating that it offended Articles 14, 15, 21, 25, 26 and 29 of the Constitution and violated the principles of secularism and rule of law, which was an integral part of the Preamble and the basic structure of the Constitution.

Advocate Ashwini Upadhyay; Rudra Vikra, resident of Varanasi; religious leader Swami Jeetendranand Saraswati and Devkinandan Thakur Ji, another religious guru, have already filed a plea in the apex court against the abovesaid Act.

The petitioners said that Sections 2, 3, and 4 of the Act have taken away the right to approach the Court and thus, the right to judicial remedy has been closed.
Section 3 of the Act bars the conversion of places of worship. It said, “No person shall convert any place of worship of any religious denomination or any section thereof into a place of worship of a different section of the same religious denomination or of a different religious denomination or any section thereof.”

Section 4 bars filing any suit or initiating any other legal proceeding for a conversion of the religious character of any place of worship, as existing on August 15, 1947.

As per the latest plea, Places of Worship Act 1991 was void and unconstitutional for many reasons, as it offended the right of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs to pray, profess, practice and prorogate religion (Article 25).

It said the Act deprived Hindus, Jains Buddhists, Sikhs from owning/acquiring religious properties belonging to deity (misappropriated by other communities).

The petition also said the Act took away the right of judicial remedy of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs to take back their places of worship and pilgrimage and the property which belong to the deity.

It also deprived the Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs to take back their places of worship and pilgrimage connected with cultural heritage (Article 29) and also restricted them to restore the possession of places of worship and pilgrimage, but allowed Muslims to claim the same under Section 107 of the Waqf Act.

According to the petition, the Act legalised the barbarian acts of invaders.

It violated the doctrine of Hindu law, which said the “Temple property is never lost, even if enjoyed by strangers for years and even the king cannot take away property as the deity is the embodiment of God and is juristic person, represents ‘Infinite the timeless’ and cannot be confined by the shackles of time.”

The petitions said, “The Central Government, by making impugned provision (Places of Worship Act 1991) in 1991, has created arbitrary irrational retrospective cutoff date.”

The Act declared that the character of places of worship and pilgrimage shall be maintained, as it was on August 15, 1947, and no suit or proceeding shall lie in the court in respect of the dispute against encroachment done by barbaric fundamentalist invaders and such proceeding shall stand abated, they demanded.
The petitioners sought declaration of Sections 2, 3 and 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 of India, in so far as it legalised ‘the ancient historical and puranic places of worship and pilgrimage’, illegally occupied by foreign invaders.

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