Gyanvapi dispute India

Varanasi court to decide which plea to hear first in Gyanvapi case 

Hindu women plaintiffs accompanied by their advocate arrive for the hearing of the Gyanvapi Masjid-Shringar Gauri Temple case, at Varanasi District Court on May 23, 2022.

Hindu women plaintiffs accompanied by their advocate arrive for the hearing of the Gyanvapi Masjid-Shringar Gauri Temple case, at Varanasi District Court on May 23, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

A district court in Varanasi, hearing the Gyanvapi Mosque dispute as per the directions of the Supreme Court, said on Monday that it would decide on Tuesday which to consider and hear first — either the report of the commission that conducted a video survey of the mosque premises or the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee’s plea challenging the maintainability of the suit filed by Hindu plaintiffs.

In response to the civil suit filed by five Hindu women seeking permission to pray at a Hindu shrine behind the western wall of the Gyanvapi mosque premises all year round, the Masjid Committee has argued that the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, specifically bars their suit and thus disqualifies it. They have relied on Order 7 Rule 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure to make this argument.

The committee on Monday argued that their prayer should be heard first in isolation from the suit filed by the plaintiffs while the Hindu plaintiffs argued that the two must be considered together along with the report of the video survey conducted under orders of the civil judge who was earlier hearing the case.

Yet to be made public

While the court-appointed commission had submitted its report on May 19, it is yet to be made public. Despite this, videos alleged to be part of the survey were leaked soon after, which prompted the Hindu plaintiffs to claim the discovery of a Shivling even as the Muslim side said the structure in question was part of a fountain that was part of the wuzu khana.

After hearing arguments from both sides, Additional District Judge A.K. Vishvesha reserved the order on the specific question as to which plea he will consider first.

Meanwhile, the Hindu plaintiffs in the Krishna Janmabhoomi-Shahi Masjid Idgah dispute filed an application in a local Mathura court seeking to perform Hindu “purification” rituals inside the mosque premises, claiming that the sanctum sanctorum of the Keshav Dev temple was purportedly located inside the mosque.

“The petitioner, Dinesh Chandra Sharma, wants to revive the sanctity of sanctum sanctorum inside the Shahi Masjid Idgah by purifying the divine place with holy water of the Ganga and Yamuna,” his lawyer Deepak Sharma said. Mr. Dinesh Sharma is the national treasurer of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha.

This comes days after a district court in Mathura revived a civil suit filed by the Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi Trust, seeking ownership of the land where the Shahi Masjid is built — which, like the Gyanvapi Mosque, comes under the purview of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991.

Orders sealing

The Gyanvapi issue had reached the Supreme Court last week, when the civil judge initially hearing the matter directed that the place, where the disputed structure was found, be sealed. But these directions came based on an advocate’s submission before the survey report was even submitted in court.

This prompted the Masjid Committee to go to the top court, with a plea challenging the survey ordered by the civil judge.

While hearing the matter, the Supreme Court had clarified that the civil judge’s order to “protect” the place where the disputed structure was found should not in any way restrict Muslims from offering prayers there.

And while transferring the matter to a District Judge, it also notably directed the court to decide on priority the plea filed by the Masjid Committee, which challenges the maintainability of the Hindu plaintiffs’ suit on the grounds that it is barred under the 1991 Act.

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Printable version | Aug 12, 2022 10:47:14 pm |