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Hindu Masjids

The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991
(Act No. 42 of 1991)


4. Annexure IV

An Act to prohibit conversion of any place of worship and to provide for the maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on the 15th day of August, 1947, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.


Be it enacted by Parliament in the Forty-second Year of the Republic of India as follows:

STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS

In view of the controversies arising from time to time with regard to conversions of places of worship, it is felt that such conversions should be prohibited.

2. In order to foreclose any controversy in respect of any place of worship that existed on 15th day of August, 1947 it is considered necessary to provide for the maintenance of the religious character of such place of worship as it existed on the 15th day of August 1947. As a consequence thereof, all the suits or other proceedings pending as on 11th day of July, 1991 with respect to any of such places of worship, may abate and also further suits of other proceedings may be barred.

3. However, since the case relating to the place commonly called Ram Janma Bhumi-Babri Masjid forms a class by itself, it has become necessary to exempt it entirely from the operation of this Act.

4. Moreover, in order to maintain communal harmony and peace, matters decided by courts, tribunals or other authorities, or those settled by parties amongst themselves or through acquiescence, between 15th day of August,1947 and the 11th day of July. 1991 are also exempted from the operation of this Act.

5. The 11th day of July, 1991 is proposed as the commencement date of the Act as on that day the President addressed the Parliament making such a declaration.

Comment

For determining the purpose or object of the legislation, it is permissible to look into the circumstances which prevailed at the time when the law was passed and which necessitated the passing of that law. For the limited purpose of appreciating the background and the antecedent factual matrix leading to the legislation, it is permissible to look into the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill which actuated the step to provide a remedy for the then existing malady. [Shashikant Laxman Kale v. Union of India, A.l.R. 1990 S.C. 2114 at p. 2119; see also Union of India v. Deoki Nandal Aggarwal, A.I.R. 1992 S.C. 96 at p. 101.]

Preambl - Meaning of- Preamble means merely the prefatory note or the introductory paragraph containing casual or passing reference to insignificant facts not intended to be relied upon. [Sanju Dora v. State of Orissa, 1995 Cr.L.J. 3150 at p. 3151 (Orissa).]

1. Short title, extent and commencement.- (1) This Act may be called the Place of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991.

(2) It extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

(3) The provisions of Secs. 3,6 and 8 shall come into force at once and the remaining provisions of this Act shall be deemed to have come into force on the 11th day of July,1991.

Comments

Construction of Statute.- A statute is to be construed according to the intent of them that make it and the duty of judicature is to act upon the true intention of the Legislature the means sententia legis. [Chain Singh v. State of Rajasthan, A.I.R. 1991 Raj. 17 at p. 28; see also Mohan Kumar Singhania v. Union of India, A.I.R. 1992 S.C. I at p. 21, Byram Pestonji Gariwala v. Union Bank of India. (1992) I S.C.C. 31 at p. 44; Umakant v. Dr. Bhikalal Jain, (1992) I S.C.C. 105 at pp. 113, 114.]

It is the duty of Courts to accept a construction which promotes the object of the legislation and also prevents its possible abuse even through the mere possibility of abuse of a provision does not affect its constitutionality or construction. Abuse has to be checked by constant vigilance and monitoring of individual cases by a suitable machinery at a high level. [Sanjay Dutt v. State, 1995 Cr.L.J. 477 at p. 490 (S.C.).]

2. Definitions- In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,-

(a) "commencement of this Act" means the commencement of this Acton the 11th day of July, 1991;

(b) "conversion" with its grammatical variations, includes alteration or change of whatever nature;

(c) "place of worship" means a temple, mosque, gurudwara, church, monastery of any other place of public religious worship of any religious denomination or any section thereof, by whatever name called.

3. Bar of conversion of places of worship.- No person shall convert any place of worship of any religious denomination or any section thereof into a place of worship of a different section of the same religious denomination or of a different religious denomination or any section thereof.

4. Declaration as to the religious character of certain places of worship and bar of jurisdiction of courts, etc.-(1) It is hereby declared that the religious character of a place of worship existing on the 15th day of August, 1947 shall continue to be the same as it existed on that day.

(2) If, on the commencement of this Act, any suit, appeal or other proceeding with respect to the conversion of the religious character of any place of worship, existing on the 15th day of August, 1947 is pending before any court, tribunal or other authority, the same shall abate, and no suit, appeal or other proceeding with respect to any such matter shall lie on or after such commencement in any court, tribunal or other authority:

Provided that if any suit, appeal or other proceeding instituted or filed on the ground that conversion has taken place in the religious character of any such place after the 15th day of August, 1947, is pending on the commencement of this Act, such suit, appeal or other proceeding shall be disposed of in accordance with the provisions of sub-section (1).

(3) Nothing contained in sub-sections ( I ) and (2) shall apply to.

(a) any place of worship referred to in the said sub-sections which is an ancient and historical monument or an archaeological site or remains covered by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 (24 of 1958), or any other law for the time being in force;

(b) any suit, appeal or other proceeding, with respect to any matter referred to in sub-section (2), finally decided, settled or disposed of by a court, tribunal or other authority before the commencement of this Act.

(c) any dispute with respect to any such matter settled by the parties amongst themselves before such commencement;

(d) any conversion of any such place effected before such commencement by acquiescence;

(e) any conversion of any such place effected before such commencement which is not liable to be challenged in any court, tribunal or other authority being barred by litmitation under any law for the time being in force.

Comment

Proviso.- It is cardinal rule of interpretation that a proviso to a particular provision of a statute only embraces the field which is covered by the main provision. It carves out an exception to the main provision to which it has been enacted by the proviso and to no other. The proper function of a proviso is to except and deal with a case which would otherwise fall within the general language of the main enactment, and its effect is to confine to that case, where the language of the main enactment is explicit and unambiguous, the proviso can have no repercussion on the interpretation of the main enactment, so as to exclude from it, by implication what clearly falls within its express terms. [A.N. Sehgal v. Raja Ram Sheoram, A.I.R. 1991 S.C. 1406 at p. 1414; see also Tribhovandas Haribhai Tamboli v. Gujarat Revenue Tribunal, A.l.R. 1991 S.C. 1538: (1991)3 S.C.C. 442 at p. 447; Toguru Sudhakar Reddy v. Government  of A.P., A.I.R. 1992 A.P. 19; Krishna Chandra Mandal v. Smt. Mandavi Devi, A.l.R. 1996 Pat. 159atp. 162.]

5. Act not to apply to Ram Janma Bhumi-Babri Masjid.- Nothing contained in this Act shall apply to the place or place of worship commonly known as Ram Janma Bhumi-Babri Masjid situated in Ayodhya hi the State of Uttar Pradesh and to any suit, appeal or other proceeding relating to the said place or place of worship.

6. Punishment for contravention of Sec.- 3.(1) Whoever contravenes the provisions of Sec. 3 shall be punishable with imprisomnent for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

(2) Whoever attempts to commit any offence punishable under subsection (1) or to cause such offence to be committed and in such attempt does any act towards the commission of the offences shall be punishable with punishment provided for the offence.

(3) Whoever abets, or is a party to a criminal conspiracy to commit, an offence punishable under sub-section ( 1 ) shall, whether such offence be or be not committed in consequence of such abetment or in pursuance of such criminal conspiracy, and notwithstanding anything contained in Sec. 116 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) be punishable with the punishment provided for the offence.

Comments

Abetment.- Section 116 of the Indian Penal Code, deals with abetment of oftences punishable with imprisonment. The said section is reproduced here as under:

"116. Abetment of offence punishable with imprisonment- if offence be not committed.- Whoever abets an offence punishable with imprisonment shall, if that offence be not committed in consequence of the abetment, and no express provision is made by this Code for tile punishment of such abetments be punished with imprisonment of any description provided for that offence for a term which may extent to one-fourth part of the longest term provided for that offense; or with such fine as is provided for that offence, or with both.

If abettor or person abetted be a public servant whose duty it is to prevent offence.- If the abettor or the person abetted is a public servant, whose duty it is to prevent the commission of such offence, the abettor shall be punished with imprisonment of any description provided for that offence, for a term which may extend to one-half of the longest term provided for that offence, or with such fine as is provided for the offence, or with both."

Abetment.- The offence of abetment is complete when the alleged abettor has instigated another or engaged with another in a conspiracy to commit the offence. It is not necessary for the offence of abetment that the act abetted must be committed.
[Jamuna Singh it. State of Bihar, A.l.R. 1987 S.C. 553 at p. 554.]

In order to constitute abetment, the abettor must be shown to have "intentionally" aided to commission of the crime. Mere proof that the crime charged could not have been committed without the interposition of the alleged abettor is not enough compliance with the requirements of Sec. 107. It is not enough that an act on the part of the alleged abettor happens to faciliate the commission of the crime. [Raja Asari v. State 1995 (4) Crimes 461 at p. 468 (Mad.).]

Thus, the petitioner has been able to make out a case that from the evidence which has been brought on record, there is nothing to suggest that the petitioner was aiding or he committed any overt act which resulted in abetment. There is nothing on record that there was any instigation, on any positive step was taken by the petitioner. [Jagdish Prasad Agrawal v. State of M.P.7 1996 (4) Crimes 13 at p. 16. (M.P.).]

When no inference of abetment can be drawn.- No inference of abetment can be drawn against the husband and in laws, specially when there was no reliable evidence of torture or cruelty for bringing insufficient dowry. [Bansiya v. State of Rajasthan7 1995 (3) Crimes 7s at p. 79 (Raj.).]

Penal provision-Interpretation of.- The settled rule of construction of penal provisions is, that "if there is a reasonable interpretation which will avoid the penalty in any particular case, the Court must adopt that construction and if there are two reasonable constructions, the Court must give the more lenient one'; and if 'two possible and reasonable constructions can be put upon a penal provision, the Court must lean towards that construction which exempts the subject from penalty rather than the one which imposes penalty. [Sanjay Dutt v. State, 1995 Cr.L.l. 477 at p. 490 (S.C.); see also S.K.D. Lakshmanan Fireworks Industries,  M/s. v. K.V. Sivarama Krishnan, 1995 Cr.L.J. 1384 at p. 1390 (Ker.) (F.B.).]

7. Act to override other enactments.- The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent there with contained in any other law for the time being in force or any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act.

8. Amendment of Act 43 of 1951.- In Sec. 8 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, in sub-section (l ).-

(a) in CI. (i), the word "or" shall be inserted at the end;

(b) after CI. (i) as so amended, the following clause shall be inserted, namely:-

(i) Sec. 6 (offence of conversion of a place of worship) of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991.''


Hindu Masjids
Prafull Goradia
The Challenge
1. The Conflict

Shuddhi in Stone
10. Christian Tears
11. Ataladevi Masjid
12. Four Vandals, One Temple
13. Bhojshala Masjid
14. Seven Temples Kept Buried
15. Adina Masjid
16. Jungle Pirbaba
17. Mandir and Dargah in One Building
18. Shuddhi by Govemment
19. Iconoclasm Continues in pakistan, Bangladesh and in Kashmir
2. Shuddhi by British
20. American Professor on Temple Desecration
3. Incomplete Shuddhi
4. Spontaneous Shuddhi
5. Waterloo of Aryavarta
6. Reclaimed Temple at Mahaban
7. Qutbuddin And 27 Mandirs
8. Instant Vandalism
9. Ghazni to Alamgir

Anti-Hindu Hindus
21. Ghazni and Nehru
22. Is A Communist Always Anti-Hindu?
23. Are Some Intellectuals Perverse?
24. Are Some Eminent Indians Anti-Hindu?
25. Ambedkar, a True Hindu
26. Swaraj Meant Saving the Khalifa
27. Archaeological Surveys
28. Hindu Future after Black Tuesday

Acknowledgements
1. Annexure I
2. Annexure II
3. Annexure III
4. Annexure IV

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