Places Of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991:
The Supreme Court asked the Centre to respond to a plea challenging the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 which freezes the status of places of worship as it was on 15th August, 1947.
- In agreeing to examine the law, the court has opened the doors for litigation in various places of worship across the country including Mathura and Varanasi.
About the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991:
- It seeks to maintain the “religious character” of places of worship as it was in 1947 except in the case of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, which was already in court.
- Section 3 of the Act bans the conversion of a place of worship or even a section of it into a place of worship of a different religious denomination or of a different segment of the same religious denomination.
- Section 4(2) says that all suits, appeals, or other proceedings regarding converting the character of a place of worship (that were pending on 15th August 1947) will come to end when the Act commences and no fresh proceedings can be filed.
- However, legal proceedings can be initiated if the change of status took place after the cut-off date of 15th August 1947 (after enactment of the Act).
- The Act also imposes a positive obligation on the State to maintain the religious character of every place of worship as it existed at the time of Independence.
- This legislative obligation on the State to preserve and protect the equality of all faiths is an essential secular feature and one of the basic features of the Indian Constitution.