File Copyright Online - File mutual Divorce in Delhi - Online Legal Advice - Lawyers in India

A Review Of Places Of Worship Act,1991 And The Gyanvaapi Issue

A legal dispute has arisen around the videography inspection of the Gyanvapi Mosque in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, with some contesting the move's constitutionality. After receiving a petition from some Hindu organisations alleging that Aurangazeb had constructed the mosque after destroying Hindu temples, a civil court in Varanasi ordered a videographic survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex, which is next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple.

This brought attention to the provisions of the 1991 Places of Worship Act. Members of the Anjuman Intezamiya Masjid Committee have refuted the claims, arguing that the survey violated the Places of Worship Act and bringing the matter before the Supreme Court.

What is the Places of Worship Act?

The Parliament passed the Places of Worship Act in 1991 with the intention of preserving the status quo among the various religions. It was developed at a period when the Ram Janmabhoomi campaign and Rath Yatra of renowned BJP leader LK Advani were gaining traction and sparking violent incidents in Uttar Pradesh. Shankarrao Bhavrao Chavan, a former union home minister in the PV Narasimha Rao Cabinet, passed a bill that led to the creation of the Act. The status quo from August 15, 1947 must be maintained, and places of worship cannot be changed to accommodate other religions or denominations, according to the Bill.

What Does The Act Say About The Conversion Of Religious Places Of Worship?

The conversion, in whole or in part, of a place of worship belonging to any religious denomination into a place of worship belonging to a different religion is expressly prohibited by the 3rd Section of the Places of Worship Act,1991. The provision forbids conversions even among the same religious denomination's many sects.

A house of worship's religious nature "must remain to be the same as it existed" on August 15, 1947, according to Section 4(1) of the Act. According to Section 4(2), all ongoing legal actions or lawsuits in any court relating to the conversion of the religious nature of any place of worship that existed on August 15, 1947, shall be dropped. No new legal actions or litigation of this nature may be brought, as required by law.

Exemptions under the Act
Any "ancient and historical monument, archaeological site, or remains covered by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 (24 of 1958), or any other law now in force," are exempt according to the Act.

A lawsuit involving the ongoing conflicts over Babri-Ram Janmabhoomi was exempt from the Act, according to Section 5 of the Act.

Why Is The Places Of Worship Act Important In The Gyanvapi Mosque Case?

A local Uttar Pradesh court ordered the sealing of a pond in the Gyanvapi Masjid complex after lawyers for the Hindu petitioners claimed that a Shivling was discovered there during the court-ordered videography survey. However, Anjuman Intezamiya Masjid Committee member disputed the claim, claiming that the object was part of the water fountain mechanism at the wazookhana reservoir where devotees perform ablutions before offering namaz.

The Masjid Committee claims that the survey violates the Act. The court stated in the Babri Masjid judgement that under the Places of Worship Act, all places of worship will be legally and should be left in the same condition as they were in 1947.

It is worth noting that the PV Narasimha Rao government passed the Places of Worship Act on September 18, 1991, one year before the Babri Masjid was demolished. Even though the act's provisions did not apply to the dispute, it was viewed as a tool for resolving the conflict by instilling confidence in the Muslim community. It reassured the community that, even if they accepted Hindu organisations' claims on the disputed site, other mosques across the country would be protected and their statuses would remain the same.

The act does not only apply to mosques, but also to other places of worship of all faiths, such as temples, gurudwaras, churches, monasteries, and any other public religious worship. The act states that all suits, appeals, and proceedings pertaining to converting the character of a place of worship that were pending before any court or authority on August 15, 1947, must be dropped as soon as the law becomes effective. The law is a special enactment that supersedes all other laws in effect.

Now that the masjid committee has petitioned the Supreme Court, it is up to India's highest court to exercise its inherent powers and stay the proceedings that are in violation of the Places of Worship Act and have the potential to disrupt India's calm and peace, potentially opening a Pandora's box. If such proceedings are allowed to proceed, it will give radical organisations false hope of staking claims on various disputed religious sites. It will also instil fear in minority communities about their places of worship, with a knock-on effect on the nation's secular fabric.

Law Article in India

Ask A Lawyers

You May Like

Legal Question & Answers

Lawyers in India - Search By City

Copyright Filing
Online Copyright Registration


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi Mutual Consent Divorce is the Simplest Way to Obtain a D...

Increased Age For Girls Marriage


It is hoped that the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which intends to inc...

Facade of Social Media


One may very easily get absorbed in the lives of others as one scrolls through a Facebook news ...

Section 482 CrPc - Quashing Of FIR: Guid...


The Inherent power under Section 482 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (37th Chapter of t...

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India: A...


The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a concept that proposes the unification of personal laws across...

Role Of Artificial Intelligence In Legal...


Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing various sectors of the economy, and the legal i...

Lawyers Registration
Lawyers Membership - Get Clients Online

File caveat In Supreme Court Instantly