SC grants Centre time until Oct 31 to file affidavit on the Places of Worship Acttext_fields
New Delhi: The Centre got from the Supreme Court on Tuesday an eighth extension, this time until October 31 to file its counter affidavit on a batch of petitions challenging the Places of Worship Act 1991.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud also clarified, during the hearing that the mere pendency of the case before them doesn't mean that the Act has been stayed
The CJI was in effect allaying apprehensions expressed by the counsel of Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind that cases were being filed all over the country seeking suspension of the Act and that governments would tend to treat pending cases as a stay on the operation of the Act.
During the brief hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench that the government was considering the matter and sought some more time to file its response.
The bench agreed to the request and granted time to the Centre till October 31 to file the counter-affidavit.
Opposing the extension granted to the Centre, one of the petitioners in the case and former Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy complained that the Centre was only delaying the proceedings.
To this, the CJI said, "Mr Swamy, that is why we are giving time till October 31, let's see what they respond."
Meanwhile, Advocate Vrinda Grover informed the bench that the Jamiat Ulema–i-Hind has filed a writ petition seeking proper enforcement of the Places of Worship Act and said various similar matters are being litigated across the country.
Grover asked the bench to clarify that there is no stay on the Act in response to which the CJI said there is no stay on the Act.
"There is no stay on the Act. All that you must do is to point out to the court concerned that there is no stay on the Act. Mere pendency of petition doesn't mean there is a stay," CJI added.
The top court has received several petitions challenging the provisions of the Places of Worship Act.
The Places of Worship Act of 1991 was brought at a time when the Ayodhya movement, led by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and backed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the BJP, was gaining momentum and there were apprehsnsions that acts similar to the demolition of Babri Masjid would be repeated in other places.
The Act states that the nature of all places of worship, except the Ram Janmabhoomi–Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, shall be maintained as it was on August 15, 1947, and that no suit shall lie in any court with respect to the conversion of the religious character of a place of worship, as existing on that date.