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Gyanvapi Mosque Dispute


Gyanvapi Mosque: Details of the Verdict

  • Gyanvapi Mosque the petitioner had argued that the Places of Worship Act must be maintained, which prevented changing of the character of the Gyanvapi Mosque.
  • The judge observed that the plaintiffs (a person who brings a case against another in a court of law) were worshipping at the disputed place Gyanvapi Mosque since a long time till 1993.
    • After 1993, they were allowed to worship at Gyanvapi Mosque only once a year under regulations of the state of Uttar Pradesh.
  • The plaintiffs worshipped at the disputed Gyanvapi Mosque regularly even after 15th August 1947. Thus, the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, do not put a bar on the suit of plaintiffs.

Gyanvapi Mosque: Vishwanath Temple Dispute

  • Gyanvapi Mosque controversy started in 1991 when a petition was filed claiming that the temple was constructed by Maharaja Vikramaditya about 2,050 years ago at the spot.
  • The devotees claim that the temple was destroyed in 1669 on the orders of Mughal emperor Aurangazeb, and the Gyanvapi Mosque was constructed on its ruins.
  • The current controversy started when five Hindu women wanted to routinely worship Shringar Gauri and other idols within the Gyanvapi Mosque complex.
  • The plea was opposed by Anjuman Intezamia Masajid Committee, which cited the Places of Worship Act.
Gyanvapi Mosque
Gyanvapi Mosque

Gyanvapi Mosque: The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991

  • The act prevents conversion of any place of worship and ensures the maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on the 15th day of August, 1947.
  • Provisions: Section 3 of the Act does not allow the conversion, in full or part, of a place of worship of any religious group into a place of worship of a different religious group or even a different segment of the same religious group.
    • Section 4(1) declares that the religious character of a place of worship shall continue to be the same as it remained on August 15, 1947.
    • Section 4(2) says any suit or legal proceeding regarding the conversion of the religious character of any place of worship existing on August 15, 1947, pending before any court, shall be dismissed and no fresh suit or legal proceedings shall be allowed.
    • Suits, appeals and legal proceedings that are pending on the date of commencement of the Act shall remain valid.
    • Section 5 says that Act shall not apply to the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case, and to any suit, appeal or proceeding related to it.
  • Reasons for enactment:
    • Status quo: The enactment of the act was said to be necessary in view of the controversies arising from time to time regarding conversion of places of worship.
    • Prevent controversy: The enactment of the law would have effectively prevented any new controversies from arising in respect of conversion of any place of worship.
  • Challenges to the law:
    • Petitioners have challenged the law on the ground that it bars judicial review, which is a basic feature of the Constitution.
    • The law sets an arbitrary retrospective cutoff date that violates the right to religion of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs.
  • Opinion of the judiciary:
    • The Supreme Court opined that, the law providing a guarantee for the preservation of the religious character of places of public worship gave confidence to every religious community that their places of worship will be preserved and that their character will not be altered.


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