A patient reading of the Ayodhya judgment delivered by a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court last November may lead one to reasonably conclude that its discussion on the Places of Worship Act, 1991 (“the PoW Act”) was irrelevant to both the factual and legal matrices of the case.
The appeals before the Supreme Court arose from the 2010 judgment of a three-Judge Bench of the Allahabad High Court delivered in a batch of title suits over the then-disputed land in Ayodhya. The PoW Act, on the other hand, is a statute designed 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…”. Pertinently, Section 5 of the said Act expressly exempts the legal proceedings in relation to Shri Ramjanmabhoomi from the application of the Act. This is recognised by the Supreme Court itself in Paragraph 80 of the Ayodhya judgment.