Supreme Court seeks govt.’s response on plea against Places of Worship Act

Certain provisions are against principles of secularism, according to petition

March 12, 2021 02:20 pm | Updated 02:20 pm IST - NEW DELHI

The Supreme Court in New Delhi. File

The Supreme Court in New Delhi. File

The Supreme Court on Friday asked the government to respond to a plea challenging a special law enacted in 1991 by the Congress government, which freezes the status of places of worship as it was on August 15, 1947.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde issued notice to the Union Ministries of Home, Law and Culture on a plea filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay against various provisions of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act of 1991.

Mr. Upadhyay said the “arbitrary, irrational and retrospective” cut-off date bars Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs from approaching courts to “re-claim” their places of worship which were “invaded” and “encroached” upon by “fundamentalist barbaric invaders”.

“The Act declared that the character of places of worship-pilgrimage shall be maintained as it was on August 15, 1947 and no suit or proceeding shall lie in court in respect of disputes against encroachment done by fundamentalist barbaric invaders and law breakers and such proceeding shall stand abated,” the petition said.

The petition said Sections of the Act that dealt with the bar on legal claims were against the principles of secularism.

“Section 2, 3, 4 not only offend right to pray, practice and propagate religion (Article 25), right to manage maintain administer places of worship-pilgrimage (Article 26), right to conserve culture (Article 29) but are also contrary to State’s duty to protect historic places (Article 49) and preserve religious cultural heritage (Article 51A),” the petition said.

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