New Delhi, June 15: The Jamiat Ulema-I-Hind has approached the Supreme Court against a plea by a Hindu outfit challenging The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991.

The impleadment application filed through Advocate Ejaz Maqbool said “even issuance of notice in the… matter will create fear in the minds of the Muslim Community with regard to their places of worship, especially in the aftermath of the Ayodhya Dispute and will destroy the secular fabric of the nation”, The Indian Express reported.

It contended that if the petition is entertained, “it will open floodgates of litigation against countless mosques in the country and the religious divide from which the country is recovering in the aftermath of the Ayodhya dispute will only be widened”.

The petition by the Lucknow-based trust Vishwa Bhadra Pujari Purohit Mahasangh and some followers of “Sanatan Vedic Religion” has contended that the Act bars the “power of remedy” of judicial review, which is a basic feature of the Constitution, and that the Parliament acted outside its power in bringing about such a legislation.

The Hindu body also said Section 4 of the Act, by insisting that the character of a religious structure as on August 15, 1947 will not be changed and barring all legal remedies against it, “has barred the right and remedy against encroachment made on religious property of Hindus” by invaders and others before August 15, 1947.

Opposing this, the Muslim body said “it is apparent that the present petition seeks to indirectly target places of worship which are presently of Muslim character”.

It contended that the Act was enacted to fulfill two purposes. “First, it prohibits the conversion of any place of worship. In doing so, it speaks to the future by mandating that the character of a place of public worship shall not be altered. Second, the law seeks to impose a positive obligation to maintain the religious character of every place of worship as it existed on 15 August 1947 when India achieved independence from colonial rule”, it said, adding that this was recognised by the Supreme Court in its Ayodhya judgment last year.

The court had noted in the judgment that the Act protects and secures the fundamental values of the Constitution and was a legislative instrument to protect secularism, the Jamiat plea said. It also pointed out that the apex court had said law cannot be used as a device to reach back in time and provide a legal remedy to every person who disagrees with the course which history has taken and that the courts of today cannot take cognizance of historical rights and wrongs unless it is shown that their legal consequences are enforceable in the present.

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