Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind has filed an application for impleadment in a plea challenging Section 4 of the Place of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991. The applicant Organisation has filed the application to oppose the challenge to Section 4 of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991.
The applicant organization has challenged the petition filed by Vishwa Bhadra Pujari Purohit Mahasangh and others submitting Section 4 of the Impugned Act 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 has further been alleged that Section 4 of the Impugned Act inter alia 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 applicant urging the Court not issue notice on the petition has submitted that even issuance of notice in the present matter will create fear in the minds of the Muslim Community with regard to their places of worship, especially in the aftermath of the Ayodhya Dispute and will destroy the secular fabric of the nation.
The applicant organization has put forward the following points in support of his argument:
- That the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 was enacted to fulfil two purposes. First, it prohibits the conversion of any place of worship. In doing so, it speaks to the future by mandating that the character of a place of public worship shall not be altered. Second, the law seeks to impose a positive obligation to maintain the religious character of every place of worship as it existed on 15 August 1947 when India achieved independence from colonial rule. These purposes have been recognized by this Hon’ble Court in its recent judgment of M. Siddiq (Ram Janmabhumi Temple-5 J.) v. Suresh Das.
- That Section 4 of the Act preserves the religious character of a place of worship as it’s existed on 15.08.1947.
- The Court in M. Siddiq (Ram Janmabhumi Temple-5 J.) v. Suresh Das, (2020) 1 SCC 1 has noted that the then Union Minister of Home Affairs had indicated that the law which sought to prohibit the forcible conversion of places of worship was not “to create new disputes and to rake up old controversies which had long been forgotten by the people … but facilitate the object sought to be achieved”
- Moreover the Court itself noted that the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, protects and secures the fundamental values of the Constitution.
- Ultimately this Hon’ble Court concluded that the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act,1991, imposes a non-derogable obligation towards enforcing our commitment to secularism under the Indian Constitution. It was further observed that the it was legislative instrument designed to protect the secular features of the Indian polity, which is one of the basic features of the Constitution
- The Places of Worship Act is intrinsically related to the obligations of a secular State. It reflects the commitment of India to the equality of all religions. Above all, the Places of Worship Act is an affirmation of the solemn duty which was cast upon the State to preserve and protect the equality of all faiths as an essential constitutional value, a norm which has the status of being a basic feature of the Constitution.
The applicant Organization has lastly submitted that during the hearing of the M. Siddiq case before the Apex Court, there is a list of numerous mosques which are doing the rounds on social media, alleging that the said mosques were built allegedly by destroying Hindu places of worship, 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.
-India Legal Bureau
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