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How a PIL against Places of Worship Act, 1991 sets wheels of Kashi Mathura in Motion

By Shashwata Sahu      May 18, 2022      0 Comments      12,418 Views

During the 40-day hearing of the Ramjanmabhoomi - Babri Masjid property controversy in the Honourable Supreme Court in 2019, Ashwini Upadhyay, a lawyer and BJP member, sat in the rear and took notes. At a hearing in which he discussed the law that preserves the "religious character" of places of worship as they were in 1947, senior attorney Rajeev Dhavan mentioned the "The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991." Upadhyay isn't sure what Dhavan said about the Act, but that's when he decided to sue over its constitutionality. 

At the time of the Apex Court's November 2019 ruling in favour of Hindu litigants, Advocate Upadhyay was prepared to file his suit in Ayodhya. He couldn't figure out when it would be a good idea to file it. A series of events culminated in the COVID-19 epidemic, starting with demonstrations against the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019 and the National Register of Citizens. Advocate Upadhyay did not want his plea to be seen as a sleazy political ploy by the BJP. On October 31st, 2020, he filed his petition, using his Dussehra holiday to finalise the document, avoiding any elections. If the petition is approved, it will pave the way for a wave of lawsuits against religious institutions all around the country. 

Advocate Upadhyay, who has filed over 100 petitions in his career as a lawyer, considers this one to be an important moment because of the potential influence it could have on the long-standing requests of Hindus for the restoration of temples. Ayodhyay recalled the 40-day hearing of the Ayodhya property dispute and said that—"I’m not saying whether he was right or wrong." He is a very senior lawyer. I’m just saying that after hearing Dhavan that day, I decided to challenge the Act. But the one thing I do not want is for the petition to be tainted by politics. This is part of our historical and religious movement, " 

It was seen by opponents as a political move by the Hindu-right and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to put to rest the emotions of historical injustice that they had created during their three decades in power. Advocate Upadhyay thinks that Ayodhya's Ram Temple is just the start of a "historical course correction," even though it could cause social and emotional problems in a country that was already traumatised by the destruction of the Babri Masjid in 1992. 

Even though the "Islamic invaders," as Upadhyay refers to them, are long gone, he feels that Hindus today must battle to reclaim their sense of pride in their heritage. He claims that 900 of the "lost temples" will be resurrected eventually. He stated that "The matter does not end with the Ram Temple." Restoring hundreds of temples is inevitable. How long it takes depends on how quick those opposing it take to give in. " 

"Lawsuit in this regard" 

The Idgah mosque complex in Mathura has already been the subject of a petition to have it sealed by a local court. If the contested premises are not sealed, the religious character of the property will be altered by Advocates Mahendra Pratap Singh and Rajendra Maheshwari. To further tighten security at Shahi Idgah Mosque, the application asks for a prohibition on all forms of movement, as well as the appointment of security officers. This petition will now be heard by the Civil Judge Senior Division Court on July 1. For the purpose of protecting Hindu religious symbols, a directive is sought to be sent to Mathura SP, Mathura DM, and CRPF Command. Sanatan temples such as Swastika, lotus flower, serpent, Kalash, flower garland and other religious symbols can be seen in Shahi Idgah mosque, according to Advocate Mahendra Pratap Singh. 

Following the Varanasi Court's directive to seal the area of the Gyanvapi Mosque grounds where the advocate commissioner reported the discovery of Shiva Linga during the survey, the application states that the grounds of Idgah Mosque must be preserved as evidence, or the parties in possession may destroy them. 

There was an application filed in Mathura's Civil Judge (Senior Division) Court on May 13 by Manish Yadav, requesting that an attorney commissioner be appointed to visit the Shahi Idgah Mosque. Shahi Idgah requested the appointment of a senior lawyer, an advocate commissioner, and an immediate video survey of Shahi Idgah because of the presence of Hindu religious symbols in the mosque. 

According to the Allahabad High Court, two applications filed in connection with the Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi Dispute must be decided within four months by Mathura's local court. 

At a press conference in Delhi on November 9, 2019, Mohan Bhagwat (RSS chief) stated that his organisation would not participate in any effort to "liberate" Varanasi and Mathura temples. The Times of India released an article on March 13, a day after the Supreme Court had accepted Upadhyay's plea, in which the RSS called for a debate on Kashi and Mathura temples. The Hindu deities Krishna and Shiva have temples near both the Shahi Idgah of Mathura and the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi. A lower court in Varanasi has allowed a study of the Gyanvapi mosque complex, referring to it as a "disputed site" and allowing for the removal of mosques in both towns. 

Upadhyay's battle against the Places of Worship Act is not a one-man show. Three Hindu priests from Lucknow challenged Section 4 of the Act in June 2020, three months before the Supreme Court heard his case. They argued that it protected the "barbarous actions of invaders who had converted the Hindu places of worship." 

Using the Apex Court's ruling that "the law cannot be used as a mechanism to reach back in time and grant legal recourse to every person who disagrees with the route which history has taken," the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, an organisation of Islamic scholars, challenged this petition. 

What is stated in the petition?

Upadhyay claims that the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, infringes on the rights of Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists under Article 25 of the Indian Constitution to worship, profess, practise, and propagate their religion in his appeal. Upadhyay said that "barbaric 

fundamentalist invaders" are barred from bringing lawsuits against the Act because the Act sets an "arbitrary and unreasonable retrospective cut-out date." He claims that the law allows the invaders' "illegal barbarous crimes to continue in perpetuity." 

India's courts, says Upadhyay, cannot be closed to Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs who have been wronged. According to the petition, removing the ability to seek redress in court breaches the Constitution's fundamental framework. 

According to Hindu belief, Ayodhya and Mathura are the birthplaces of the Hindu gods Rama and Krishna. Even if the Highest Court hasn't considered the first case, according to Upadhyay, barring individuals from bringing a complaint against the mosque in Mathura is "arbitrary and unreasonable." 

So, what's the alternative? It's up to you what you want to do with your sticks. As a result of this law, the country's democratic process has been put on hold. Mobocracy is promoted by this law, rather than democracy. 

Discussion

Opponents of Upadhyay's lawsuit against the Act are "sideing with the Muslim invaders," according to him. Despite the catastrophic second wave of the COVID-19 epidemic hitting India in March 2021, the petition of Upadhyay has yet to be heard in court. It had been scheduled for April 26, but no hearing was held on it. A potential date of July 19 has been added to the schedule. Upadhyay is optimistic that the subject will be settled within a week of the hearings beginning. 

According to Upadhyay, the Act is arbitrary and terrible in law, which could lead to a wave of lawsuits surrounding religious institutions and the resulting emotional and social turmoil. He added, "This is a war between Bharatiya sanskriti and the invaders," when we brought up what the Supreme Court said in 2019 about not using the law to seek justice for events that occurred hundreds of years ago. 

Those in power at the centre had high hopes that they would right historical wrongs. Invaders' criminal acts were made legal by this legislation, he claimed. Upadhyay said that it was an "un-Islamic construction" created after another structure had been demolished when we brought up the devastation caused by the demolition of the Babri Masjid, which was then followed by communal rioting and three decades of bad feelings. 

Upadhyay stated that the Act "legalised un-Quranic and un-Islamic constructions" in Mathura and Varanasi. He also advocated Hinduism as a "way of life," whereas other religions were simply "religions." Whether he was banking on the support of the Modi government or not, Upadhyay stated, "I'm convinced that this bill will go." Illegal immigrants' actions have been shielded by a law that he plans to close.



Tags:
Babri Masjid Demolition Case Ashwini UpadhyaySupreme Court of IndiaPlaces of Worship Act 1991 Constitution of IndiaAdvocates Mahendra Pratap SinghAdvocates Rajendra Maheshwari Varanasi Court Gyanvapi MosqueAllahabad High CourtSpecial Provisions Act 1991
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