Opposition objects to introduction of private member’s bill seeking repeal of Places of Worship Act

The opposition parties have strongly objected to the introduction in the Rajya Sabha of a private member’s bill which seeks to repeal the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991.

The private member bill, brought by the BJP member Harnath Singh Yadav, was admitted and listed for introduction in the Rajya Sabha.

The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Repeal Bill, 2022 was listed for introduction in the Upper House of Parliament on Friday by BJP member Harnath Singh Yadav. The Act prohibits conversion of any place of worship and provides for the maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on August 15, 1947.

Congress whip in the Upper House Naseer Hussain and the CPM’s Elamaram Kareem gave notices to oppose it, both citing “a threat to communal harmony”. Hussain stated, “This bill is unconstitutional as it affects the secular nature of our Constitution striking at the very roots of basic structure doctrine.”

The Congress member said the enactment of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act laid to rest various issues relating to places of worship.

“Therefore, the collective wisdom of this very Parliament needs to be respected,” he said. He argued that any discussion pertaining to the Act “will only hamper the judicial proceedings.”

It is to be noted that the Act has already been challenged through a writ petition in the Supreme Court and, hence.

The Supreme Court last month asked the Union government to file its reply to a batch of PILs challenging the validity of certain provisions of a 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.

A section of legal experts are of the view that the repeal of the Act would open a “Pandora Box” in the current situation when far Hindu rights groups are emerging to claim their ownership on old religious places.

It is to be noted that several petitions are before different courts where litigants have staked claims on mosques and Idgah.


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