The Worship Act of 1991 was enacted 31 years ago. Issues are being raised on this law after the Gyanvapi controversy in Kashi.
What is the meaning of the Place of Worship Act?
Recently, among the issues raised for the tribunal of religious places in the country, the issue that is raising the head is - Places of Worship Act (Places of Worship Act, 1991). In the petition filed on behalf of the Muslim side in the Supreme Court, it was said that the order of the Varanasi Court is in violation of the 'Place of Worship Act, 1991'.
What does the Place of Worship Act, 1991 say?
This Place of Worship Act, enacted in 1991, says that a place of worship of any religion which came into existence before 15 August 1947 cannot be converted into a place of worship of another religion.
When did this Act come to light?
Anyone who tries to violate this Act can be fined and jailed for up to three years. This law was brought by the then Congress Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao government in 1991. This law came when the issue of Babri Masjid and Ayodhya was very much discussed and in the mainstream.
Place of Worship Act Section-2
This section says that if any petition regarding change in any religious place existing on 15th August 1947 is pending in the court, then it will be closed.
Explanation of Section 3 of the Place of Worship Act:
According to this section, it is not allowed to convert any religious place to any other religion wholly or partially. Along with this, this section ensures that the place of worship of one religion should not be changed to another religion or even to a different section of the same religion.
What Does, “Section 4(1) of the Place of Worship Act” states?
Section 4(1) of this Act states that the character of a place of worship as on 15th August 1947 shall be maintained as it was.
Section 4 (2) of the Place of Worship Act:
As per Section 4(2) it deals with the stay of litigation and legal proceedings which were pending on the date of coming into force of the Place of Worship Act.
Section 5 of the Place of Worship Act:
Provided that this Act shall not apply to the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case and any suit, appeal or proceeding related to it.
Motive behind the law?
The Place of Worship Act was enacted when the Ram Mandir movement had reached its peak. This movement also had an impact on other temples and mosques of the country. At that time, apart from Ayodhya, many disputes started coming to the fore. It was only to put an end to what was then that the Narasimha Rao government of that time had brought this law.
What is the provision of punishment for the violation:
This law works equally for all. Violators of this act are punishable with imprisonment for three years and fine.