The Supreme Court has today issued a notice to the Centre on a petition challenging the validity of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991. The petition was filed by BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay. While this news definitely left all Hindus gleaming with joy, considering it marks a positive step towards their long-standing efforts to reclaim their religious places of worship which were converted into mosques by Islamic invaders, it has upsetted BJP MP Subramanian Swamy, who used this opportunity to express his angst towards the supreme judicial body of India, charging it with being partial.
Taking to Twitter, the BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP complained that the Supreme Court today took note of the plea filed by Ashwini Upadyay, but, did not bother to list his PIL on the similar matter.
Today Noted Lawyer Ashwini Upadyaya’s WP challenging the 1991 Act barring any more temples being restored on which mosques had been built, SC issued Notice. SC Registry should have listed my WP on the same matter but erred in not doing so. I will now seek tagging with Ashwini’s.— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) March 12, 2021
Lamenting over SC’s bias, the BJP MP Subramanian Swamy said that now he would tag his PIL along with that of Ashwini Upadyay’s. “Today Noted Lawyer Ashwini Upadyaya’s WP challenging the 1991 Act barring any more temples being restored on which mosques had been built, SC issued Notice. SC Registry should have listed my WP on the same matter but erred in not doing so. I will now seek tagging with Ashwini’s”, Subramanian Swamy wrote on Twitter.
Earlier Subramanian Swamy had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to amend the Act. He had said that the Act is offensive and ultra vires of his fundamental rights to freedom of worship. “Fundamental Rights cannot be amended or modified by the Parliament or by any law passed by the Parliament. It cannot have the overriding effect of extinguishing my fundamental right of freedom of worship under Articles 25 and 26 of the constitution. Hence, the Ministry of Law should bring an amendment to this Act,” he had written in the letter to the PM.
This Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991 was introduced on July 11, 1991, by the Narasimha Rao govt at the centre with a motive to prevent Ram Janmabhoomi-like reclamation movements for other places by Hindus in India. This Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991 placed a status quo retrospectively on the character of places of worship as existing on the date of Independence, i.e. August 15, 1947. However, the Ram Janmabhoomi was kept out of the purview of the act as the title suit for the plot in Agra was already in the court.
The act declares that the character of a place of worship freezes on 15 August 1947, meaning if a place of worship is a mosque as on 15 August 1947, its character is that of a mosque even if it was originally a temple. The act provides for punishment if any person changes or attempts to change the character of any religious place to another.
In his petition, Upadhyay argued that Act takes away rights of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs to reclaim their places of worship through Courts and also legalises illegal acts of Muslim invaders.
Referring to the ongoing dispute before a trial court for reclaiming the birthplace of Lord Krishna at Mathura which is directly hit by the bar under the 1991 Act, the petition, argued by senior advocate Vikas Singh, said that the 1991 law violated the principle of secularism which is an integral part of Preamble and a basic feature of Constitution.
“Hindus are fighting for restoration of birthplace of Lord Krishna from hundreds of years and peaceful public agitation continues, 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 the incarnations of Lord Vishnu, the creator. The apex court has finally decided Ayodhya dispute on November 9, 2019 and found substance in the claim of Hindus and now a new temple is going to be constructed after more than 500 years of demolition,” read the petition filed by BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, hearing which the SC sought the Central government’s reply on the matter.
This matter assumes significance in the backdrop of demands by various Hindu outfits to reclaim religious places like Mathura and Kashi, related to Lord Shiva and Lord Krishna respectively, in Uttar Pradesh, which are prohibited under the 1991 law.
The bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde and Justice AS Bopanna while issuing notice to the Centre on the petition said: “The Centre has barred remedies against illegal encroachment on places of worship and pilgrimages and now Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs cannot file a suit or approach a high court under Article 226. Therefore, they won’t be able to restore their places of worship and pilgrimage including temple endowments in spirit of Articles 25-26 and illegal barbarian act of invaders will continue in perpetuity.”
Following SC’s observations, BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay who took to Twitter to welcome the apex court’s decision on his petition challenging validity of Places of Worship Act.
SC issues notice to Home, Law & Culture Ministry on PIL challenging validity of Places of Worship Act— Ashwini Upadhyay (@AshwiniUpadhyay) March 12, 2021
The Act not only takes away the religious rights of Hindus Jains Buddhists Sikhs to reclaim their places of worship through Court but also legalizes the illegal acts of invadors pic.twitter.com/CMIZ2vx6uc
“SC issues notice to Home, Law & Culture Ministry on PIL challenging validity of Places of Worship Act The Act not only takes away the religious rights of Hindus Jains Buddhists Sikhs to reclaim their places of worship through Court but also legalizes the illegal acts of invadors”, wrote the BJP leader on Twitter.