BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay has appealed to the Supreme Court to intervene in the Gyanvapi mosque dispute after filing a public interest litigation petition challenging the constitutional validity of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 (Act). According to the application, Upadhyay is seeking impleadment for a proper understanding of the facts and circumstances of the case.
The 1991 Act, which was passed during the height of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, aims to protect the status of all religious structures as they were on the date of independence by prohibiting courts from hearing cases that raise questions about their character
The law also states that such cases that are currently pending in the courts will be dismissed.
However, the Act made an exception for the Ram-Janambhoomi site, which served as the foundation for courts, including the High Court and the Supreme Court, to hear the case. The Supreme Court invoked this law in 2019 when awarding the disputed site at Ayodhya to child deity Ram Lalla since Ayodhya land was exempted.
In light of the Act, the Supreme Court has reaffirmed that similar cases cannot be heard with respect to other sites. In March 2021, the Supreme Court issued a notice to the Central government in response to Upadhyay’s petition challenging the Act’s validity.
Only those places of worship that were erected or constructed in accordance with the personal law of the person who erected/constructed them should be protected, according to the current application seeking impleadment in the Gyanvapi case. Places erected or constructed in violation of the personal law cannot be called “places of worship.”
The 1991 Act, on the other hand, kept August 1947 as the cut-off date for legalising the illegal acts of barbaric invaders. Muslims cannot claim any right to any piece of land claiming to be a mosque unless it is built on legally owned and occupied virgin land, according to the plea.
In his petition, the BJP leader claimed that the 1991 law establishes an “arbitrary and irrational retrospective cut-off date” of August 15, 1947, for protecting the character of places of worship or pilgrimage from “fundamentalist-barbaric invaders and law-breakers.” He also stated that the religious character of a temple does not change after the roof, walls, pillars, foundation, or even the offering of Namaz are demolished.
It is argued that Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs have the right to profess, practise, and propagate religion as prescribed in their religious scriptures and that making laws that restrict their rights is prohibited by Article 13. Furthermore, only mosques built in accordance with Islamic principles and mosques built in violation of Islamic provisions cannot be given the status of a mosque, the application said.
Muslims cannot claim any right to any piece of land claiming to be a mosque unless it is built on legally owned and occupied virgin land, according to the plea.
“The mosque built on temple land cannot be a mosque,” it was submitted, “not only because such construction is against Islamic law, but also because the property once vested in the deity remains the deity’s property and the right of the deity and devotees is never lost, no matter how long illegal encroachment continues on such property.”