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Mon. Oct 3rd, 2022
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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre to make its stand clear within two weeks on the constitutional validity of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, which bars any litigation seeking to change the character of a religious place from what it was at the time of Independence, and allowed intervention applications of all who wanted to argue, including Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, which has submitted that the law was approved by the apex court in its Ayodhya verdict and there was no need to re-examine it.
As some petitioners pleaded that the issue should be referred to a Constitution bench, a bench of Chief Justice U U Lalit, Justices Ravindra Bhat and P S Narasimha said the call to refer the case to a larger bench would be taken by a three-judge bench which would hear the case on October 11.
A batch of petitions was filed in the SC months after the Ayodhya verdict was pronounced. The case has been pending in the court for more than a year. The petitioners, including BJP leaders Subramanian Swamy, Ashwini Upadhyay and other Hindu organisations, moved the SC seeking to open the litigation route for ownership claim over disputed sites, like those at Kashi and Mathura, as they challenged the validity of the 1991 Act, which barred change in character of religious places after Independence, even through court proceedings.
The SC had in March last year issued notice on the petitions which alleged the law is discriminatory as it deprived Hindus, Jains and Buddhists from reclaiming their ancient places of worship which were damaged and converted to Mosques during the reign of Muslim rulers. The Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute was the only exception made in the 1991 law as the suits were pending before trial court since 1949.

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