Plea in SC against law on maintaining religious places

Plea filed in SC against 1991 law on maintaining character of religious places

BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay contended the Centre has barred the remedies against illegal encroachment on places of worship

Credit: PTI.

A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the validity of a 1991 law which created "arbitrary and irrational retrospective cutoff date" of August 15,1947, for maintaining the character of places of worship-pilgrimage against encroachment done by "fundamentalist-barbaric invaders and law breakers".

In a PIL, BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay contended the Centre has barred the remedies against illegal encroachment on the places of worship and pilgrimages of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs, who cannot file suit or approach a High Court.

He sought a declaration from the court that the provisions of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 was void and unconstitutional for being violative of fundamental rights to equality, practice one's religion and maintain religious places, among others, as the law validated ‘places of worship’, illegally made by barbaric invaders.

"Hindus have been fighting for restoration of birthplace of Lord Krishna from hundreds of years but while enacting the Act, Centre has excluded birthplace of Lord Ram at Ayodhya but not the birthplace of Lord Krishna in Mathura though both are the incarnations of Lord Vishnu, the creator," he said. 

Maintaining that restriction to move court against the principle of rule of law, and secularism, he claimed if Ayodhya case had not been decided by the Supreme Court's Constitution bench on November 9, 2019, Hindus would have been denied justice even after 500 years of the demolition of the temple.

Upadhyay contended that under the Hindu Law, the deity and its property is never lost and devotees have right to sue a wrongdoer for restoration of deity and its property. So, illegal encroachment by other faith doesn’t yield any right and equity in favor of usurper.

He claimed that the Centre has no power to close the doors of courts and bar judicial remedy against illegal encroachment on the places of worship and pilgrimage.

In June, Lucknow-based Vishwa Bhadra Pujari Purohit Mahasangh had already filed a plea in the top court questioning the validity of the provisions of the 1991 Act.

The move has assumed significance as there have been demands to resume litigation on Kashi-Mathura, related to temples of Lord Shiva and Lord Krishna respectively, in Uttar Pradesh. A suit in Mathura court has already been admitted for consideration.

Muslim scholars organisation, Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind had already approached the top court to oppose the plea, saying it "will create fear in the minds of the 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".