Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring amendments in the Places of Worship Act 1991, citing that certain provisions in the Act is against the spirit of Fundamental Right of Freedom of Worship, enshrined in the Constitution of India. In his letter, Swamy pointed out that Section 4 of the Places of Worship Act must be amended as it is ultra vires of the Right to Worship.
The Places of Worship Act passed by Narasimha Rao’s Government in September 1991 was brought in context to control the Sangh Parivar’s widespread movement for the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. Section 4 of the Act says that except in the Ayodhya case, the status quo of Temples and other worshiping areas will be maintained as on August 15, 1947, the day India attained Independence. As per this Act, no courts or tribunals can entertain cases on Temples and worshiping areas character and rights over it. This Act was enacted to prevent Sangh Parivar which has already sought the liberation of Kashi Vishwanath Temple and Mathura Sri Krishna Temple partially destroyed by Aurangzeb and Masjids were constructed on them.
As the Ayodhya case had already in the Courts, the Government exempted it from controversial Places of Worship Act of 1991. The recent verdict of the Ayodhya case also gives details about this Act.
“I write this letter to seek your direction to the Ministry of Law to effect an amendment to The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 and in particular Section 4 which is offensive and ultra vires of my fundamental rights under Article 25 and 26 of the Constitution. This Act was enacted by the Congress Government headed by Mr. Narasimha Rao. Fundamental Rights cannot be amended or modified by the Parliament or by any law passed by Parliament. It cannot have the overriding effect of extinguishing my fundamental right of freedom of worship under Article 25 and 26 as also faith enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution. This makes it a part of the Basic Structure of the Constitution.
Hence the Ministry of Law should bring an amendment to this Act starting that it is not applicable to those religious institutions where the question of fundamental right and faith is claimed. I shall seek an appointment with the Law Minister Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad to explain in detail this matter. I seek your intervention and appropriate direction to the Ministry of Law and Justice,” said Subramanian Swamy in his letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Subramanian Swamy’s letter to Prime Minister for bringing amendments in the Places of Worship Act 1991 is published below: