Another plea has been filed in the Supreme Court on Tuesday challenging the Constitutional validity of certain sections of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991, saying the Act violates the principles of secularism.
The plea filed by Anil Kabotra, a retired army officer, has challenged the constitutional validity of Sections 2, 3, and 4 of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991, which it said offends Articles 14, 15, 21, 25, 26, 29 and violates the principles of secularism and rule of law, which is an integral part of Preamble and the basic structure of the Constitution.
Advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, Rudra Vikram, resident of Varanasi, Swami Jeetendranand Saraswati, a religious leader, Devkinandan Thakur Ji, resident of Mathura and a religious guru among others who have already filed a plea in the apex court against the 1991 Act. The pleas said that Sections 2, 3, and 4 of the Act have taken away the right to approach the Court, and thus right to judicial remedy has been closed.
Section 3 of the Act bars the conversion of places of worship. It states, "No person shall convert any place of worship of any religious denomination or any section thereof into a place of worship of a different section of the same religious denomination or of a different religious denomination or any section thereof."
Section 4 bars filing any suit or initiating any other legal proceeding for a conversion of the religious character of any place of worship, as existing on August 15, 1947.
The Places of Worship Act 1991 is void and unconstitutional for many reasons, the plea said, adding that it offends the right of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs to pray, profess, practice, and prorogate religion (Article 25), the petitions said. The Act infringes on the rights of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs to manage maintain, and administer the places of worship and pilgrimage (Article 26), pleas added.
"The Act deprives Hindus, Jains Buddhists, Sikhs from owning/acquiring religious properties belonging to deity (misappropriated by other communities). It also takes away the right of judicial remedy of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs to take back their places of worship and pilgrimage and the property which belong to deity," stated the pleas.
The Act further deprives Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs to take back their places of worship and pilgrimage connected with cultural heritage (Article 29) and it also restricts Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs to restore the possession of places of worship and pilgrimage but allows Muslims to claim under Section 107, Waqf Act, the pleas added.
"The Act legalizes barbarian acts of invaders. It violates the doctrine of Hindu law that 'Temple property is never lost even if enjoyed by strangers for years and even the king cannot take away property as the deity is the embodiment of God and is juristic person, represents 'Infinite the timeless' and cannot be confined by the shackles of time," one of the petitions stated.
"It is respectfully submitted that the Central Government by making impugned provision (Places of Worship Act 1991) in the year of 1991 has created arbitrary irrational retrospective cutoff date, declared that character of places of worship and pilgrimage shall be maintained as it was on August 15, 1947, and no suit or proceeding shall lie in the court in respect of the dispute against encroachment done by barbaric fundamentalist invaders and such proceeding shall stand abated," the PILs stated.
The pleas sought direction to declare that Section 2, 3, and 4 of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 is void and unconstitutional for being violative of Articles 14, 15, 21, 25, 26, 29 of the Constitution of India in so far as it legalizes 'the ancient historical and puranic places of worship and pilgrimage', illegally occupied by foreign invaders.