In a development that will have massive implications, the Supreme Court Friday agreed to examine the constitutional validity of the provisions of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991.
The Act, passed by the Congress government of P V Narasimha Rao in 1991, seeks to maintain the religious structures as it existed on August 15, 1947. The only exemption granted was to the Ram Janmbhoomi case in Ayodhya.
A provision of the Act notes “If, on the commencement of this Act, any suit, appeal or other proceeding with respect to the conversion of the religious character of any place of worship, existing on the 15th day of August, 1947, is pending before any court, tribunal or other authority, the same shall abate, and no suit, appeal or other proceeding with respect to any such matter shall lie on or after such commencement in any court, tribunal or other authority”.
So, this particular provision bars any litigation which challenges the nature of the religious place.
The petitioner, Ashwini Upadhyay, has submitted this Act has taken away the legal remedies available to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains.
A similar PIL was filed by Vishwa Bhadra Pujari Purohit Mahasangh in June last year.
The Supreme Court, in a unanimous 5-0 verdict on November 9, 2019, has given the land rights to deity Ram Lalla in the Ram Janmabhoomi case in Ayodhya.
But, because of this Act, no such litigation can be entertained in Kashi and Mathura cases.
Acting on the petition of Upadhyay, the court issued notices to the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Law & Justice and the Ministry of Culture.