Hindu Body Files PIL In SC, Challenging Provision In 1991 Place of Worship Act

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New Delhi: A Hindu body has filed a petition in Supreme Court challenging a provision of the 1991 law that provides for maintaining “religious character” of holy structures as it existed on August 15, 1947.

The PIL, filed by ‘Vishwa Bhadra Pujari Purohit Mahasangh’, is aimed at opening the litigation route to reclaim disputed religious sites other than the Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya.

The petition, which challenges Section 4 of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, is significant vis-à-vis the cases of Varanasi and Mathura where two disputed mosques stand, according to a report in The Indian Express.

The 1991 law also prohibits the conversion of any temple into a mosque and vice -versa.

On November 9, 2019, the Supreme Court had, in a unanimous 5-0 verdict, backed construction of a Ram temple by a trust at the disputed site in Ayodhya where the demolished Babri Masjid once stood, and had ruled that an alternative five-acre plot must be found for a mosque in the holy town.

The five-judge bench had dealt with the Act in question, stating that the law is a legislative instrument designed to protect secular features of Indian polity, which is one of the basic features of the Constitution.

The latest PIL seeks directions to declare Section 4 of the 1991 Act as ultra vires, that is, beyond its legal power or authority, and unconstitutional.

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