Supreme Court to hear PIL challenging Places of Worship Act on September 9

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The plea challenging the provisions of the Places of Worship Act including Sections 2,3, and 4 was mentioned before the Court with a request that it not be deleted from the Cause List as listed because it has been deleted earlier 6 times.

The Supreme Court on Friday allowed mentioning of a plea challenging the provisions of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991. The bench has directed the matter to not be deleted from the cause list of September 9.

Senior Advocate Rakesh Dwivedi mentioned the matter before a bench of the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice Krishna Murari, and Justice Hima Kohli requesting the bench to direct that the matter not be deleted from the list of September 9, 2022 stating that the matter has been deleted 6 times from the Cause List, even after the directions of the Court.

The plea has alleged that the concerned Act takes away the power of the Court and Religious Sects to restore their places of Worship. The petitions challenged Sections 2,3, and 4 of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 on the grounds of Articles 14,15,21,25,26, and 29 of the Constitution.

It may be noted that several petitions have been moved before the Top Court challenging the provisions of the Act. The petitioners include Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay (Main petitioner), Advocate Chandra Shekhar, former Member of Parliament Chintamani Malviya, Swami Jeetendra Saraswatee, Devkinandan Thakurji, Anil Kabootra.

However, earlier, on July 29, the Court directed the petitioners, who later challenged the provisions of the Places of Worship Act 1991 later, to move intervention applications in the plea already pending before the court, challenging the same legislation. 

Upadhyay challenged the Places of Worship Act 1991, before the Supreme Court last year. Court issued notice in the same in March 2021. The plea is pending before the court. 

Malviya's plea challenges the Act on the grounds that "It excludes the birthplace of Lord Rama but includes the birthplace of Lord Krishna, though both are the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the creator and equally worshiped all over the world." 

Chandrashekar's plea states that religious fundamentalists’ invasion of the land of India was always followed by the destruction of places of worship of eminence and a place of worship of a different religious denomination was constructed or established over the ruins of the earlier structure and thus, each and every place of worship of eminence of Sanatan (Hindu) religion has one or more place of worship of a particular religious denomination in its vicinity.

Apart from that, in June 2022, Jamait Ulama-I-Hind filed an impleadment application in Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay's plea. Also, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board has moved an application in the same opposing the challenge. 

Case title: Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay Vs. Union of India & Ors.