Places of Worship Act 1991: UPSC

The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991 seeks to maintain and protect the religious character of places of worship in India.

Places of Worship Act, 1991 forbids any transformation in a location of worship’s religious character from what it was on August 15, 1947.

Places of Worship Act, 1991

The Act was passed in 1991 by the P V Narasimha Rao-led Congress regime. The purpose was to lock the position or “religious identity” of any house of worship as it existed on August 15, 1947.

It was meant to pre-empt new allegations by any community about the previous designation of any holy place, as well as efforts to reclaim the buildings or property on which they stood. It was desired that the law would aid in the long-term preservation of peaceful coexistence.

The Places of Worship Act arrived in the late 1980s and early 1990s as part of the campaign to build the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya but the Law was not applied to the Ayodhya place of worship known as Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid.

Provisions of The Places of Worship Act, 1991

The Places of Worship Act, 1991 asserts that each and every lawsuit, appeals, or other proceedings pertaining to transforming the character of the area of worship that are pending before any court or authority on August 15, 1947, will be terminated as soon as the legislation becomes effective. There can’t be any further legal proceedings.

Punishment provisions in The Places of Worship Act, 1991 

Anyone who violates the bar on changing the status of a place of worship liable to prosecution. Anyone who violates the prohibition faces up to 3 years imprisonment and a penalty under the law.

Those who aid and abet or participate in a criminal conspiracy to commit this offence will face the same punishment, even if the violation is not committed as a result of such abetment or as part of the conspiracy.