Places of Worship Act (Special Provisions) Act, 1991:

Why is in News?

Why is in News?
➔ Recently the Allahabad High Court in the Gyanvapi case said that the Places of
Worship Act, 1991 is not an “absolute bar” on litigants from approaching courts
to define the “religious character of any place of worship” or to seek their right as
to a place of worship
◆ It may open a Pandora’s box
➔ The High Court pointed out that the 1991 Act has not defined the term “religious
What is Places of Worship Act of 1991?
★ It is “an Act to prevent the conversion of any place of worship & to provide for the
maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it was on the
15th of August 1947”
Who was the Prime minister during the enactment of the Act?
● PV Narasimha Rao
What different sections of the Act say?
★ Section 3 of the Act restricts the conversion, in full or part, of a place of worship
of any religious denomination into a place of worship of a different religious
denomination or even a different segment of the same religious denomination
★ Section 4(1) states that the religious character of a place of worship “shall
continue to be the same as it existed” on August 15, 1947
★ Section 4(2) says “any suit or legal proceeding concerning the conversion of the
religious character of any place of worship existing on August 15, 1947, pending
before any court, shall abate & no fresh suit or legal proceedings shall be
★ The provision to this subsection saves lawsuits, appeals, and legal actions that
are ongoing on the day the Act is put into effect if they concern the modification
of a house of worship’s religious character beyond the deadline

What are the Exemption to the Act?

Section 5 stipulates that Act shall not apply to Ramjanmabhoomi – Babri Masjid
case, & any suit, appeal, or proceeding relating to it
➢ Any place of worship which is an ancient & historical monument, or an
archaeological site is covered by the Ancient Monuments & Archaeological Sites
and Remains Act, of 1958
➢ A suit that has been finally settled or disposed of
➢ Any dispute that has been settled by the parties or conversion of any place that
took place by acquiescence before the Act commenced

What are the Supreme court’s view on the places of worship act?

The Ramjanmaboomi-Babri Masjid title action was heard by a Supreme Court
bench, & neither the constitutionality of the 1991 Act nor its review had been
brought up.
❖ But, SC made explicit comments in support of the Act even though it disagreed
with some of the judgments reached by Allahabad High Court
❖ The Constitution Bench referred to the statute in the 2019 Ayodhya judgment &
stated that it embodies the secular values of the Constitution and forbids