Gyanvapi Case: Petitioners rely upon SC ruling on namaz. Tell the court 1991 Act is not applicable


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The Supreme Court’s 1994 decision that Muslims are not required to offer prayers at a mosque was used by advocates for Hindu side. They told the Varanasi court on Wednesday that the Places of Worship Act 1991 does not apply in the Gyanvapi Mosque-Shringar Guri Complex case. But they also argued for the right for Muslims to hold prayers on the mosque premises.

A K Vishvesh District Judge is currently hearing Rakhi Singh and four other women of the Hindu community’s plea. The petitioners have sought the court’s nod to worship Maa Shringar Gauri, a deity understood to be within the Gyanvapi mosque premises, every day.

In the 1994 ruling — Ismail Faruqi versus Union of India — the apex court held that a mosque is not an “essential part of the practice of the religion of Islam”, and that namaz can be offered anywhere.

The Muslim petitioners responded to Varanasi court’s plea. They argued that the plea was not valid because the 1991 Places of Worship Act prohibits conversion of any worship place and requires the preservation of its religious character as it existed on August 15, 1947.

The Hindu side however argued that it will not be applicable in this instance to the Places of Worship Act.

“…it is relevant to mention that the principle of ‘first in existence’ or ‘prior in existence’ is the paramount consideration for determining the right of worship at a particular place where two communities are claiming right to worship,” the Hindu side argued.

The Supreme Court said in May that Gyanvapi was being heard. It stated that the court would have to look at various nuances of Act, including the determination of religious character.

“But the ascertainment of a religious character of a place, as a processual instrument, may not necessarily fall foul of the provisions of Sections 3 and 4 (of the Act)… These are matters which we will not hazard an opinion in our order at all,” Justice D Y Chandrachud had said while hearing the Gyanvapi issue.

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“All the more reason why, on the basis of evidence… let’s allow” the proceedings, he had noted.

The Hindu side seeks to prove that Gyanvapi mosque is truly religious in the case before the district court judge.

“In 1585, Raja Todar Mal had reconstructed a magnificent temple of Lord Shiva at the very same place where the temple originally existed at Land No. 9130. In 1669, the then ruler, Aurangzeb, had issued a farman to demolish existing temples at Kashi and Mathura, which were carried out,” the plea stated.


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