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Harmonising Places Of Worship Act With Standard Legal Procedures Is Need Of The Hour

Law

Harmonising Places Of Worship Act With Standard Legal Procedures Is Need Of The Hour

Though the objective of Places of Worship Act to discourage any retrogression into communal fault lines is admirable, its contradictions and ambiguity on many counts have rendered it inefficacious

Illustration: Saahil

The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act was enacted by the Indian government in 1991. It sought to prohibit the conversion, and to ensure the maintenance, of the religious character of all places of worship, as it existed on August, 15, 1947. The reason behind choosing this cut-off date was, in the words of Dr Malini Bhattacharya, Member of Parliament, it was the day India achieved independence and emerged as a democratic and sovereign State; a State that has no official religion and gives equal rights to all religious denominations.

Before the Places of Worship Act was tabled in the Indian Parliament by the Union Government, MP from Jangipur, West Bengal, Zainal Abedin, on July 12, 1991, introduced before the Lok Sabha a resolution titled ‘Steps for Maintaining Status Quo of Religious Shrines and Places of Worship’ as they existed on August 15, 1947. The resolution aimed to urge the government to peacefully settle the Ayodhya dispute and enact suitable laws for the preservation of all religious shrines. However, MP Abedin withdrew his resolution on August 23, 1991, the day a government bill on similar lines was introduced before the Lok Sabha by the then Union minister of home affairs, S.B. Chavan, which received the assent of the majority on September 10, 1991. Subsequently, it was adopted by the Rajya Sabha on September 12, 1991, and received the President of India’s assent on September 18, 1991.  

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