Gyanvapi Mosque dispute and the Places of worship Act 1991

Synopsis: The recent ruling by Varanasi civil court in the Gyanvapi Mosque dispute threatens the secular feature of India.

 Background
  • Earlier, the representatives of the Hindu faith had filed a petition to reclaim the Gyanvapi mosque land.
  • Now, a civil court in Varanasi directed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to conduct a survey. In that, the ASI will confirm whether the Gyanvapi mosque was built over a demolished Hindu temple or not.
  • But any attempt to bring back the buried disputes is a threat to secularism and peaceful coexistence
What does the Place of worship act 1991 say in this regard?
  • The Places of worship Act declares that the religious character of a place of worship shall continue to be 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.
  • Exemptions under the Act: There are few exceptions under the Act. Such as,
    • The Act will not apply to ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites. This is because these are covered under the  Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.
    • The Act exempted the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute.
Challenges with the recent Case:
  • One, it will open the floodgates for another prolonged religious dispute.
  • Two, the order is a gross violation of the Place of worship act that prohibits any litigation over the status of places of worship.
  • Three, the Allahabad High Court reserved its order on the maintainability of the suit on March 15. Further, the High Court is yet to pronounce its ruling. So, the implementation of the judgement might change after the High Court Judgement.

Source: The Hindu

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