Gyanvapi and the Places of Worship Act
During the survey at the Gyanvapi mosque, a ‘shivling’ is said to have been found. Taking cognisance of the sensitive matter, the Supreme Court has directed the administration of Varanasi to ensure protection of the area at the mosque complex. The court said that Muslims can continue offering ‘namaz’ there without any obstruction.
What does the Places of Worship Act say?
- Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991: The law was enacted to freeze the status of all places of worship in the country as on August 15, 1947. The Act says that no person shall convert any place of worship of any religious denomination into one of a different denomination or section.
- Exception: The Babri Masjid-Ramjanmabhoomi dispute was kept out of its ambit as the structure was then the subject of litigation. The dispute was settled when the court ruled that the land on which the Babri Masjid stood should be handed over to the Hindu community for the construction of a Ram temple.
- No further litigation: The act declares that all suits and appeals pending before any court or authority on the cut-off date regarding the conversion of the character of a place of worship shall abate and no further proceedings can be fled. However, any suit or proceeding relating to any conversion of status that happened after the cut-off date can continue.