NEW DELHI: Ahead of the December 12 deadline set by the Supreme Court for the Center to finalize its position on the Law on places of worship1991, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday he said no law is above judicial scrutiny.
Responding to a question about the government’s position on the Places of Worship Law, which froze the character of all places of worship as they existed on August 15, 1947, Shah refrained from commenting specifically on the law enacted in the face of the campaign for Ram Mandir, which was challenged as a violation of freedom of religion and worship.
“After the Ayodhya ruling, other controversies arose and the law enacted in 1991 was also challenged. I shouldn’t be talking about these issues from a public platform because they are sub judice. However, I must say that every law should pass legal scrutiny,” he said during the Times Now Summit on the theme of ‘India: Vibrant Democracy, Global Bright Spot’.

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Asked if the government is proposing to amend the law, the minister said the court had sent a notice to the Center and would soon clarify its position on the matter. Despite his reluctance to comment specifically on the law in question, Shah’s remarks are considered significant and the first potential peek into the government’s thinking on the matter. Shah also addressed the sensitive issues of the uniform civil code, stressing that the country could have it by 2024 but there would be a healthy and open debate on the subject, as well as CAA and NRC.
On the CAA-NRC, Shah dismissed the suggestion that the law change to provide citizenship to victims of religious persecution in the neighboring Islamic countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan (which sparked angry protests) had been frozen. “CAA is a law and a reality that cannot be changed now; we have to frame the rules. These have been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. No one should even dream that AAC won’t be implemented. Those who think so are mistaken,” said a confident home minister who said the BJP would keep power in 2024.
He promised exemplary and swift retribution for Aftab Poonawala who allegedly dismembered the body of his live-in Shraddha Walkar, while putting a combative note on leaked videos of Delhi minister Satyendar Jain frolicking inside the Tihar Jail compound.

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He said the BJP was headed for a landslide victory in Gujarat and would surpass its previous best mark of 129 seats, and win a majority in Himachal Pradesh, as well as win the polls for the Municipal Corporation of Delhi where it is pitted against to the AAP in what is virtually a direct contest.

Asked to comment on the video leak of Jain in Tihar, Shah said it is AAP that owes people an explanation as to why they have persisted with him as minister. “This is unprecedented brazenness and a shocking example of a minister who is in prison, who has not been asked to resign on grounds of political morality. I resigned when charges were brought against me and I was jailed,” he said, noting that he was acquitted by the court which found the charges against him to be politically motivated.
The home minister criticized the culture of freebies and denied that the free cereals given to poor households of 80 crores was even a freebie. “We have provided free LPG connection, but people have to pay for recharging. We have arranged electricity connection for houses, but they have to pay for the electricity they consume. We have also built houses and toilets for people, but it is their responsibility to maintain them,” he said.
“Gujarat has a budget of Rs 2.42 lakh crore and the cost of implementing the promises that have been made would come to Rs 3.6 lakh crore,” he said.

Shah dwelt at length on the uniform civil code, saying that the promise to enact one was not only part of the BJP’s political journey, but also a directive from the Constituent Assembly to the legislature. “No secular country can have laws based on religion. How can a secular country and a secular government have laws sanctioned by religion. People, regardless of their faith, should follow one law,” said Shah.
“Whatever their motivations, we cannot go forward without everyone on board. That is why the BJP governments in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat have started the process of promulgating their own UCCs,” he said.
Shah disagrees with the suggestion that continued resistance means there would be no progress on the UCC. He said the promise would be fulfilled after 2024. “We alone will form government in 2024,” he said, adding that it’s very likely that by then two-thirds of states will be able to enact their own versions of the UCC. “In such a situation, Parliament will have to reflect on its course of action and what it has left to do,” he said.
When told the government ended special status for J&K despite a lack of consensus, Shah said the two issues were not comparable. “The Article 370 granting the special status was designed to be temporary. Also, the issue was only in one state and we got it when the J&K governor wrote,” he added.
Referring to the case of Shraddha’s murder, he underlined the need to have laws against conversion and against the jihad of love. “Laws are strictly followed. You can propagate your religion, but you can’t lure people with money or facilities and force them to convert,” Shah said.
On the need for a nationwide anti-conversion law, he said: “That’s a gray area. We need to define whether we need a nationwide anti-conversion law.”
When asked if Jammu and Kashmir was his biggest success during his tenure as home minister, he said, “In Jammu and Kashmir, the Modi government has made a drastic change. J&K was said to be with India due to Article 370. Now Article 370 and 35A are not there but J&K is still part of India. Some 30,000 panches and sarpanches lead the pro-democracy movement there; Investments worth Rs 56,000 crore arrived; 80 lakh tourists visited UT, highest number since Independence; J&K’s native languages ​​have been recognized as state languages; Dalits and other backward classes got the benefits of reservation for the first time; and every house now has electricity and water connection. Since the 1990s, terrorism has reached its lowest level and there are no more stone-throwing incidents. J&K is thriving now.



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