The Supreme Court on Friday asked the petitioners challenging certain provisions of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 to file an intervention in the petitions, which are already pending before the court in the matter.
A bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and J.B. Pardiwala said: “We grant liberty to intervene in the two pending petitions.”
A total of six petitioners have moved the top court challenging certain provisions of the Act. During the hearing, the bench said the petitioners could supplement the grounds of challenge in the pending petitions.
The petitions have been filed by advocates Chandra Shekhar and Rudra Vikram Singh, retired Army officer Anil Kabotra, Devkinandan Thakur Ji, Swami Jeetendranand Saraswati, and former Bharatiya Janata Party MP Chintamani Malviya.
Kabotra moved the apex court against the validity of sections 2, 3, and 4 of the Act. He argued that these sections violate the principles of secularism. Kabotra said a retrospective cut-off date — August 15, 1947 — was fixed to legalize the illegal acts of barbaric invaders and pointed out that the Act violates the principles of secularism. The plea, filed through advocate Ashwini Kumar Dubey, challenged the constitutional validity of Sections 2, 3, and 4 of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991, which it said offends Articles 14, 15, 21, 25, 26, 29.
“Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs, have the right to profess, practice and propagate religion as provided in their religious scriptures and Article 13 prohibits from making law which takes away their rights,” said Kabotra’s plea. It further added, “right to restore back religious property is unfettered and continuing wrong and injury may be cured by judicial remedy”.
A plea has also been filed by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, challenging the validity of certain provisions of the 1991 Act.
The Supreme Court issued notice on March 12, last year, on Upadhyay’s plea. Another petition was filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy in June 2020, challenging the 1991 law. The apex court on March 26, 2021, admitted Swamy’s petition for hearing, and sought a response from the Centre.