Places of Worship Act: Law bars right to seek judicial review, says plea in top court

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By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: June 13, 2020 12:34:53 am

Supreme Court, Hindu body to Supreme Court, Place of Worship Act 1991, Place of Worship Act 1991 Supreme Court, Supreme Court on Place of Worship Act 1991, India news, Indian Express The plea said the Parliament by way of the Act retrospectively created a cut-off date of August 15, 1947 for its implementation.

A petition before the Supreme Court has challenged the Constitutional validity of Section 4 of The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, saying it “has barred the right and remedy against encroachment made on religious property of Hindus” by invaders and others before August 15, 1947.

A Lucknow-based trust, Vishwa Bhadra Pujari Purohit Mahasangh, and some followers of “Sanatan Vedic Religion” have contended the Act bars “power of remedy” of judicial review and violates the principle of secularism.

The plea said the Parliament by way of the Act retrospectively created a cut-off date of August 15, 1947 for its implementation. The Act declares that the character of a place of worship as was on this date shall be maintained and no suit or any proceeding shall lie in any court in respect of any dispute against encroachment of any religious properties at any point of time before this date.

Section 4 also says that any such pending proceeding shall stand abated and that if any proceeding filed on the ground that conversion of religious place has taken place after that date and before September 18, 1991 when the Act was made, shall be disposed off to maintain the status as was existing on August 15, 1947.

“The result is that Hindu devotees cannot raise their grievance by instituting any suit in Civil Court or invoking the jurisdiction of the Hon’ble High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India against high handiness (sic) of ultras and will not be able to restore back the religious character of Hindu Endowments, Temples, Mutts etc from hoodlums if they had encroached upon such property before 15th August 1947…,” the plea said.

The Act had kept out of its purview the land which was the subject matter of the Ayodhya dispute. Referring to this, the petition said “in case the Ayodhya case would not have been decided, the Hindu devotees would have been denied justice. Therefore any restriction on right to approach Civil or High Court is against the basic principle of rule of law….”

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