M. Ismail Frauqui and Ors. Vs. Union of India (UOI) and Ors.

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 24.10.1994

COURT: Supreme Court of India

JUDGES: M.N. Venkatachaliah, C.J., A.M. Ahmadi, J.S. Verma, G.N. Ray and S.P. Bharucha, JJ.

REFERENCE: AIR 1995 SC 605 A

PARTIES:

Appellants:      M. Ismail Frauqui and Ors.

Respondent: Union of India (UOI) and Ors.

SUBJECT: While offer of prayer or worship could be a religious practice, its offering at each area where such prayers can be offered would not be a fundamental or necessarily part of such religious practice unless the place includes a specific importance for that religion so as to create an essential or indispensable part thereof. In this landmark judgment, the Apex Court considered the question of securing of religious place by the State. A temple, church or a mosque, etc, are fundamentally considered as immovable properties and are subject to protection under Article 25 and 26.

FACTS: Ayodhya, in the north of India is a township in District Faizabad of Uttar Pradesh. It has for some time been a place of blessed pilgrimage as a result of its mention in the epic Ramayana as the place of birth of Shri Ram. The structure normally known as Ram Janma Bhoomi-Babri Masjid was raised as a mosque by one Mir Baqi in Ayodhya in 1528 AD. It is asserted by certain sections that it was built at the site accepted to be the birth-spot of Shri Ram where a temple had stood before. This resulted in a long-standing debate. The discussion entered a new stage with the putting of statues within the debated premise in

December, 1949. The premises were attached under section 145 of the CrPC. Civil suits were recorded without further ado from there on. Interim orders in these civil suits limited the parties from evacuating the idols or interfering with their worship. In impact, hence, from December, 1949 till December 6, 1992 the structure had not been utilized as a mosque. In any case, a dispute broke out in December 1992. It was within the consequence of the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992 that the Government of India ordered the Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act, 1993. Wherein certain arrangements were challenged before the Apex Court.

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS:

The Indian Constitution:

Article 25: Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion.

Article 26: Freedom to manage religious affairs Subject to public order, morality and health, every religious denomination or any section thereof shall have the right.

ISSUES:

1) Whether the state can acquire land in a disputed religious place?

JUDGEMENT:

The rule of secularism illumines the provisions of Articles 15 and 16. Article 15 obliges the State not to discriminate against any citizen on the ground of religion. The commitment isn’t subject to any restriction. Article 16(2) puts: no citizen shall on the ground of religion be ineligible for or be discriminated against in regard of any work of office under the State. Ayodhya may be a storm that will pass. The nobility and respect of the Supreme Court cannot be compromised because of it. Having respect to the construction put upon the act it is neither vital nor suitable to discuss the other challenges to their validity and maintainability, respectively. It may , however, be said that the act was public order legislation and, therefore, beyond the competency of Parliament very plausible. Hinduism is tolerant faith. It is that tolerance leeway that has enabled Islam, Christianity, Muhammadanism, Judaism Buddhism Jainism and Sikhism to find shelter protection and support upon this nation . There is no doubt that the moderate Hindu has little taste for the tearing down of the place of worship of another to replace it with a temple. Moderate opinion shall find general expression and that communal brotherhood shall bring to the dispute at Ayodhya an amicable solution long before the courts could resolve it.

To quote Gandhiji again , “India cannot cease to be one nation because people belonging to different religious live in it In no part of the world are one nationality and one religion synonymous terms, nor has it ever been so in India”. The Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act, 1993, is struck down as being unconstitutional. The writ petitions impugning the validity of the Act are allowed. The issues in the suits in the Allahabad High Court withdrawn for trial to this Court are answered accordingly.

CONCLUSION: The Preamble to the Constitution of India proclaims that India is a secular democratic republic. Article 15 in Part III of the Constitution, which gives for fundamental rights, suspends the State from discriminating against any citizens on the ground of religion. Secularism is given pride of place within the Constitution. The question is to protect and secure all religions, to put all devout communities on a standard. When, subsequently, disciples of the religion of the larger part of Indian citizens make a claim upon and ambush the place of worship of another religion and by dint of numbers make conditions that are conducive to open disorder, it is the sacred commitment of the State to ensure that place of worship and to protect public order utilizing for the purpose such means and forces of law and order as are required. It is impermissible under the provisions of the Constitution for the State to procure that place of worship to protect public order.

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