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Supreme Court Grants Further Time to Centre on Challenges to 1991 Law, No Blanket Stay on Proceedings Related to Religious Places

By Harshvardhan Sharma      12 July, 2023 05:43 PM      0 Comments
Supreme Court Grants Further Time to Centre on Challenges to 1991 Law, No Blanket Stay on Proceedings Related to Religious Places

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that it can't issue a blanket stay on proceedings before different courts on religious places as it granted further time to the Union government to clarify its stand on pleas challenging validity of the Places of Worship Act, 1991, which mandated for maintaining status of religious places as prevailed on August 15, 1947.

The top court also said there is no stay on the law for maintaining status of religious places. However, it cannot order blanket stay on proceedings in various courts across the country related to religious places.

The court had issued notice on March 12, 2021 to the Centre on a plea filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay.

On Tuesday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted before a three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud, "I'm conscious of the fact that I have sought time for this before but it (Centre's response) is under consideration. Central government needs more time to file it".

After hearing Mehta’s submissions, the top court said, "having regard to ramifications of the case, let counter affidavit be filed by Centre till October 31, 2023".

BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy, one of the petitioners, submitted that the Centre is taking adjournment after adjournment. He asked the court to keep the matter for final hearing. The court, however, said let us see the affidavit by the Centre first.

Advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for a party to oppose the plea, contended the Centre may be granted more time to file its response, but the court should clarify that the 1991 Act should be effectively implemented as petitions across the country are being filed in courts with regard to several religious structures due to the pendency of matter here.

The bench, also comprising Justices P S Narasimha and Manoj Misra, then said there is no stay on the 1991 law.

"There is no stay on the Act. Mere pendency of proceedings doesn't mean there is a stay. We cannot stay proceedings before courts without knowing what those are," the bench said.

The court said it would proceed after filing of the counter affidavit by the Union government.

In his plea, Upadhyay claimed the 1991 Act takes away the rights of Hindus, Jains, Buddhist and Sikhs to restore their "places of worship and pilgrimages, destroyed by barbaric invaders”.

"The Act had put a retrospective cut-off date of August 15, 1947 mandating maintaining the character of religious places and barring any court to take up any petition except the Ram Temple at Ayodhya," it said.



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