NEW DELHI: Attempts to challenge the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 have re-emerged amid the controversy over a Shivalinga-like structure being found in the Gyanvapi mosque.The latest to move the Supreme Court is Devkinandan Thakur, a Mathura-based religious guru. His petition challenges certain sections of the 1991 law, claiming these violate the rights of religious groups to seek judicial intervention to reclaim their places of worship.
The 1991 law passed by the then Congress government, preserves the character of a religious place as it stood on August 15, 1947. The plea states that the Centre has “transgressed its legislative power” by barring remedy of judicial review which is a basic feature of the Constitution. The petition by Thakur specifically challenges the validity of Sections 2, 3, and 4 of the law.
“The injury caused to the Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs is extremely large because sections 2, 3, 4 of the Act has taken away the right to approach the court and thus right to judicial remedy has been closed,” said the plea. While Section 3 of the Act deals with the bar of conversion of places of worship, Section 4 pertains to the declaration as to the religious character of certain places of worship and the bar of jurisdiction of courts.
“The Hindus are fighting for the restoration of the birthplace of Lord Krishna but while enacting the Act, the Centre has excluded the birthplace of Lord Ram at Ayodhya but not the birthplace of Lord Krishna in Mathura, though both are incarnations of Lord Vishnu,” it said.
Several other pleas challenging the 1991 law have already been filed in the top court. In March 2021, BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay filed a plea against the Act. Earlier, in June 2020, a Hindu group moved a similar petition