Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind said entertaining the plea against the Places of Worship Act, 1991 will open floodgates of litigations against countless mosques across India.
Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind has moved the Supreme Court seeking the dismissal of a petition challenging the constitutional validity of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, which prohibits the conversion of any religious place.
Urging the top court not to entertain the petition challenging certain provisions of the law, the organisation sought to be imploded in the PIL filed by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay. It said that entertaining the plea against the Places of Worship Act, 1991 will open floodgates of litigations against countless mosques across India.
“There is a list of numerous mosques which is doing the rounds on social media, alleging that the mosques were built allegedly by destroying Hindu temples. Needless to say, that if the present petition is entertained, it will open floodgates of litigation against countless mosques in the country and the religious divide from which the country is recovering in the aftermath of the Ayodhya dispute will only be widened,” the organisation said in its application.
It said the Act was intrinsically related to the obligations of a secular State and reflected the commitment of India to the equality of all religions.
“This court has categorically held that the law cannot be used as a device to reach back in time and provide a legal remedy to every person who disagrees with the course which history has taken and that the courts of today cannot take cognizance of historical rights and wrongs unless it is shown that their legal consequences are enforceable in the present,” the intervention application added.
The top court had in March 2021 asked the Centre to respond to Upadhyay’s petition challenging the validity of certain provisions of the 1991 Act, which prohibited filing of a lawsuit to reclaim a place of worship or seek a change in its character from what prevailed on August 15, 1947.
Recently, several petitions were filed challenging the constitutional validity of certain sections of the Act, saying the Act violates the principles of secularism.
They have challenged the constitutional validity of Sections 2, 3, 4 of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991, which it said offends Articles 14, 15, 21, 25, 26, 29 and violates the principles of secularism and rule of law, which is integral part of Preamble and basic structure of the Constitution.
Section 3 of the Act bars the conversion of places of worship. It states, “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 of 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.