Asaduddin Owaisi, the chief of AIMIM (All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen) today said the order of the Varanasi court allowing a petition from some Hindu women for year-long worship on the premises of Varanasi’s Gyanvapi mosque should be challenged in the High Court. “I was hoping that the court will nip these issues in the bud. Now it appears that more such litigations will be coming and this is going the way the Babri Masjid legal issue went,” he told NDTV in an exclusive interview hours after the verdict.
The court of District judge AK Vishvesha ordered today that a petition of five Hindu women seeking permission to conduct rituals inside the mosque premises through the year, will be heard. The court also made it clear that plaintiffs were not asking for a conversion of the premises and their suit “is limited and confined to the right of worship as a civil right, fundamental right as well as customary and religious right”.
The contention of the Muslim petitioners that it would lead to instability, has no merit, said the judge, who was specially handed the case by the Supreme Court earlier this year.
The top court had said given the “complexity and sensitivity” of the dispute, it requires experienced handling.
Owaisi, however, said the order will “set off many things”.
“Everyone will say that we have been here before 15 August 1947. Then the aim of the 1991 Places of Religious Worship Act will be defeated. The 1991 Act was made so that such conflicts end. But after today’s order, it seems there will be more litigations on this issue and we will be back to the ’80s and it will create a destabilising effect,” Owaisi told NDTV.
The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991 maintains the religious status of any place of worship should stay the way it was on August 15, 1947. Section 3 of the Act bars the conversion of places of worship. The Babri Masjid case was the exception.
But following the Supreme Court order allowing a temple in the disputed area in Ayodhya and giving Muslims a separate land for a mosque, a petition has been filed challenging the Constitutional validity of certain sections of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991.
The petition has argued that the law takes away the rights of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs to restore their “places of worship and pilgrimages” destroyed by invaders.
The Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind has also filed a plea contending that entertaining such petitions will open floodgates of litigation against countless mosques across India.
The Supreme Court will hear the matter on October 11.
A case is already being heard in Uttar Pradesh on the Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi-Shahi Masjid Idgah dispute.
Several petitions have been filed in Mathura courts, seeking the shifting of the mosque. The petitioners claim that it has been built at the birthplace of Lord Krishna, within the 13.37-acre premises of the Katra Keshav Dev temple.
With inputs from NDTV