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The places of worship act:

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Context:

An appeal against the video survey of Varanasi’s Gyanvapi mosque will be heard by the Supreme Court.

  • The survey, according to a Muslim organisation, is in violation of the places of worship act, 1991.

 

Current Affairs

 

What’s the issue?

During a court-ordered videography survey of the Gyanvapi Masjid complex by a municipal court in Varanasi, a “shivling” was apparently discovered.

  • The Gyanvapi Masjid is located near the iconic Kashi Vishwanath temple in Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi.

 

What does the places of worship act, 1991 say?

  • The Act states that a place of worship’s religious nature must remain the same as it was on August 15, 1947.
  • It says no person shall convert any place of worship of any religious denomination into one of a different denomination or section.
  • It declares that all litigation, appeals, or other proceedings ongoing before any court or authority on August 15, 1947, involving converting the status of a place of worship, will cease as soon as the law takes effect. There will be no more legal action taken.

 

The following are exempt from these provisions:

  • Ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites and remains that are covered by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.
  • A suit that has been finally settled or disposed of; and any dispute that has been settled by the parties or conversion of any place that took place by acquiescence before the Act commenced.
  • The Act also does not apply to the place of worship commonly referred to as Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. This law will have an overriding effect over any other law in force.

 

Criticisms surrounding the law:

The law has been challenged on the ground that it bars judicial review, which is a basic feature of the Constitution, imposes an “arbitrary irrational retrospective cutoff date”, and abridges the right to religion of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Key features of the law.
  2. Objectives.
  3. Exceptions under the law.

Mains Link:

Write a note on issues surrounding this law.

 

Q.3) Consider the following statements:

  1. The Places of Worship Act, 1991 states that a place of worship’s religious nature must remain the same as it was on January 26, 1949.
  2. It says the authority to convert any place of worship of any religious denomination into one of a different denomination or section lies with the Central Government only.

Choose the correct answer using the codes given below:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both
  4. None of the above 

Sources: Indian Express.