Centre should uphold Places of Worship Act: CPI-M

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New Delhi, Mar 13 (PTI) The CPI(M) on Saturday questioned the need to examine the validity of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, saying the Centre should uphold the provisions of the legislation in its response to the Supreme Court.

The remarks came a day after the top court sought the Centre's response to a plea against certain provisions of the 1991 law, which prohibits the filing of a lawsuit to reclaim a place of worship or seek a change in its character from what prevailed on August 15, 1947.

The PIL assumes significance amid demands by some Hindu groups to reclaim religious places at Mathura and Kashi.

'It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court has opened the way for a re-examination of the Places of Worship (Special Provision) Act, 1991,' the Left party said in a statement.

The Act mandates that the character of all religious places of worship should be maintained as it was on August 15, 1947, and no suit or proceedings shall lie in a court of law with respect to the character of places of worship, the CPI(M) said.

'This effectively barred courts from entertaining cases which raise disputes over places of worship that existed as of August 15, 1947,' it said. 'The law further provided that such cases already pending in courts would stand abated.' The petition alleges that the 1991-law creates an 'arbitrary and irrational retrospective cut-off date' of August 15, 1947, for maintaining the character of the places of worship or pilgrimage against encroachment done by 'fundamentalist-barbaric invaders and law-breakers'.

The CPI(M) said the Act granted an exception for the Babri Masjid/Ramjanmabhoomi site in Ayodhya, which was then under dispute.

While invoking this exemption, the Supreme Court, in the 2019 Ayodhya verdict, reaffirmed that similar such cases cannot be entertained with respect to other sites in view of this Act.

The CPI(M) politburo reaffirms that the grounds on which this law was enacted 'need not be re-examined,' it said. 'The Central Government must respond to the Supreme Court seeking its views in a firm affirmation of the Places of Worship Act, 1991.' PTI ASG HMB