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Challenge to Places of Worship Act would damage Secular Fabric of the nation: Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind opposes Pujari Mahasangh's plea in SC

"Even issuance of notice will create fear in the minds of the Muslim Community with regard to places of worship, especially in the aftermath of the Ayodhya Dispute", states the application opposing the Mahasangh's plea.

Shruti Mahajan

The Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind has moved the Supreme Court opposing the petition filed by Vishwa Bhadra Pujari Purohit Mahasangh which had challenged Section 4 of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act,1991.

In its application, the organization says that if the petition by the Pujari Mahasangh is entertained it would create fear in the minds of the Muslim community.

The Pujari Mahasangh had moved a petition before the Supreme Court challenging the validity of Section 4 of the Places of Worship Act, contending that this provision has barred people from exercising their right to legal remedy in cases pertaining to places of worship.

According to the provision, the status of all places of worship stood solidified based on their status as it existed on August 15, 1947 and any legal proceedings in relation to those places of worship stood abated after the enactment of the Act in 1991.

While challenging this provision, the petition by the Pujari Mahasangh said that the same was in violation of the principles of secularism.

The application by Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind also raises relies on the principles of secularism, albeit to say that if the petition against the Act is entertained by the Court, the same is likely to destroy the secular fabric of the nation.

"...even issuance of notice in the present matter will create fear in the minds of the Muslim Community with regard to their places of worship, especially in the aftermath of the Ayodhya Dispute and will destroy the secular fabric of the nation."
the application says.

By arguing that the members of Hindu faith are being barred from reclaiming their places of worship which were allegedly encroached upon, the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind contends that the Mahasangh is indirectly targeting the places of worship of the Muslim community.

The applicant also avers that the provision sought to be challenged by the Mahasangh is in fact one that preserves the religious nature of every place of worship as it stood on the day India secured independence from Colonial rule.

Section 4 of the Places of Worship Act places a "positive obligation" to maintain religious character of the places of worship and the same was also recognized by the Supreme Court itself in its recent judgment in the Ayodhya case, it is said.

"...this Hon’ble Court itself noted that the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act,1991 protects and secures the fundamental values of the Constitution."
Applicant says referring to the Ayodhya Judgment.

The Places of Worship Act is "intrinsically related to the obligation of a secular State" and is a reflection of India's commitment to secularism and equality of all faiths, the applicant avers.

This Act is an affirmation of the State's duty to protect and preserve all faiths and religions, it is stated. Further, the Act is a reminder that historical wrongs cannot be remedied by people taking law in their own hands, the applicant further argues.

"In preserving the character of places of public worship, Parliament has mandated in no uncertain terms that history and its wrongs shall not be used as instruments to oppress the present and the future."
The application states, citing the Ayodhya judgment

The applicant-organization adds that even if the averments made by the Mahasangh are assumed to be true, what is sought in the petition is for historical wrongs to be corrected now.

Yet again citing from the Ayodhya case, the applicant submits that it was the Supreme Court which held that law cannot be used as a tool to go back in time to provide a remedy for everyone who disagreed with the discourse of that time. Historical wrongs of the past cannot be taken cognizance of by the Court unless it can be shown that the same has a bearing on enforceable rights in the present time.

Therefore, in view of the legal principle laid down by the five-Judge Constitution Bench in the Ayodhya case, the petition filed by the Pujari Mahasangh ought not to be entertained, the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind submits.

The Ayodhya Bench
The Ayodhya Bench (L-R) Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice DY Chadrachud, CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justice (now CJI) SA Bobde, Justice Abdul Nazeer

This application is filed through Advocate Ejaz Maqbool and drawn by Advocates Shahid Nadeem and Akriti Chaubey along with Maqbool.

Read Application:

Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind - Application for Impleadment (Places of Worship Act).pdf
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