Jamiat challenges Hindu body plea in SC to quash law on places of worship

Vishwa Bhadra Pujari Purohit Mahasangh filed a writ plea saying the legal provision protected ‘barbarous action of invaders who had converted the Hindu places of worship’.

June 14, 2020 02:19 pm | Updated 02:20 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind has asked the Supreme Court for a chance to contest a petition filed by a Hindu body to quash a legal provision which protects the “barbarous action of invaders who had converted the Hindu places of worship”.

The Jamiat said the court should not even issue notice on the petition and make the Muslim community insecure about their places of worship, especially after the recent culmination of the Ayodhya dispute. The Supreme Court judgment in the Ayodhya dispute saw the land where Babri Masjid once stood given over to the Hindus.

The Jamiat, represented by advocate Ejaz Maqbool, has filed an impleadment application on June 13 against a writ petition filed by the Vishwa Bhadra Pujari Purohit Mahasangh in the Supreme Court earlier in the week.

The Mahasangh has challenged the validity of Section 4 of The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991. It claims the provision “validates the alleged illegal and barbarous action of invaders who had converted the Hindu places of worship by restricting the right of Hindus to reclaim possession of these places of worship which had been converted by the invaders”. It alleged that the Section “discriminates the members of the Hindu community vis-a-vis the members of the Muslim community in the matter of restoring possession of places of worship”.

The Mahasangh’s challenge to Section 4 of the 1991 Act gains significance in the case of Kashi and Mathura, where two mosques stand.

In its application, the Jamiat highlighted how the Ayodhya judgment had held that “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”.

“Courts of today cannot take cognisance of historical rights and wrongs unless it is shown that their legal consequences are enforceable in the present,” the application said.

‘Protect secular fabric’

The Jamiat urged the court to protect the secular fabric of the nation.

It said the 1991 Act was meant to prohibit the conversion of places of worship. The law imposed a positive obligation to maintain the religious character of every place of worship as it existed on August 15, 1947 when India achieved independence from colonial rule.

“The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act,1991 imposes a non-derogable obligation towards enforcing our commitment to secularism under the Indian Constitution. It is a legislative instrument designed to protect the secular features of the Indian polity,” the Jamiat told the court.

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