The Places of Worship Act, 1991
- It was enacted to freeze the status of religious places of worship as they existed on August 15, 1947, and prohibits the conversion of any place of worship and ensures the maintenance of their religious character.
- The Act prevents the conversion of a place of worship, whether in full or part, from one religious denomination to another or within the same denomination.
- It Ensures that the religious identity of a place of worship remains the same as it was on August 15, 1947.
- The act also declares that any ongoing legal proceedings concerning the conversion of a place of worship’s religious character before August 15, 1947, will be terminated, and no new cases can be initiated.
- The Act does not apply to ancient and historical monuments, archaeological sites, and remains covered by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.
- It also excludes cases that have already been settled or resolved and disputes that have been resolved by mutual agreement or conversions that occurred before the Act came into effect.
- The Act does not extend to the specific place of worship known as Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, including any legal proceedings associated with it.
- The Supreme Court of India has adjourned the case regarding the validity of the Places of Worship Act of 1991, allowing the Centre until October 31, 2023, to clarify its stand on the matter.
- Undertake a thorough review of the Places of Worship Act to address criticisms and shortcomings.
- Ensure the Act does not restrict judicial review, preserving the judiciary’s role in upholding constitutional rights.
- Strike a balance between preserving the religious character and respecting the rights of different communities.
- Involve public consultation, ensure transparency, and review the exclusion of specific sites to promote fairness and consistency.