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HC order soon on Varanasi Gyanvapi mosque case

The Gyanvapi Mosque. File  

The Allahabad High Court is expected to deliver its order on Thursday on a petition challenging the decision of a Varanasi court, which in April directed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to conduct a comprehensive physical survey of the Gyanvapi mosque compound adjacent to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Uttar Pradesh.

The lower court had directed the ASI to find out whether the mosque was a “superimposition, alteration or addition or there is structural overlapping of any kind, with or over, any other religious structure”.

Senior civil judge of a fast track court Ashutosh Tiwari had directed the Director General of ASI to constitute a five-member committee of experts, two of whom should preferably belong to the minority community. The committee would “trace as to whether any Hindu temple ever existed before the mosque in question was built or superimposed or added upon at the disputed site,” the judge had said in his order.

The order came on a petition demanding the restoration of the land on which the Gyanvapi Mosque stands to Hindus. The petition claimed that Mughal emperor Aurangzeb had pulled down parts of the old Kashi Vishwanath Temple to build the mosque.

The managing committee of the Gyanvapi Mosque in Varanasi, Anjuman Intezamia Masjid, and the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board then moved the Allahabad High Court to restrain the proceedings of the local court.

The two bodies filed applications in the High Court in which they had challenged the maintainability of a civil suit pending before the Varanasi district court.

Sunni Board's plea

The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board and the masjid committee had called the court decision unwarranted and argued that it was barred by the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991. The Places of Worship Act was upheld by a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in the Ayodhya judgment.

In its application, the mosque committee said the civil judge was “behaving in the most arbitrary manner and is passing the orders against the spirit of Judicial discipline.” The civil judge had ignored the entire written submissions and applicability of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 and the Order 7 Rule 11D of the Civil Procedure Code, the mosque committee argued.

“…it appears the learned civil Judge concerned is more interested to bypass all judicial disciplines and ethics as well as procedures of law and to establish himself as above the judicial hierarchy as defined under the Civil Procedure Code and had assumed himself as the only authority to decide the entire issue without looking into the legal impediment and bars,” said the application.

The plaintiffs, on behalf of ancient idol of Swayambhu Lord Vishweshwar, had submitted in the lower court that there had been a famous and well recognised ancient temple of Swaymbhu Lord Vishweshwar (plaintiff 1) at the “disputed site.” They claimed: The temple was reconstructed by King Vikramaditya 2050 years ago. The temple then got dilapidated and one Narayan Bhatta received financial help from Raja Todarmal under the command of Raja Man Singh, a confidant of Mughal Emperor Akbar, and got the temple reconstructed”.

The plaintiffs further claimed that on April 18, 1669, Emperor Aurangzeb then got the temple demolished with a farman and constructed a mosque with the help of the ruins of the said temple.

Since the shivling (idol) of the above said temple is self-existing and naturally arisen from deep inside the earth, hence even after the demolition, the Swaymbhu shivlinga of Lord Vishweshwar continues to exist along with the argha surrounding it at the very same place where it was prior to the demolition of the temple, the plaintiffs said.

According to the plaintiffs, they continue to worship and offer prayers to Lord Vishweshwar by circumambulation but they and all the other Hindus having faith in the deity are deprived of their right to offer water to the idol.

The mosque committee objected to the representative suit filed by the plaintiffs and said that since the disputed site is a mosque at present, and the same is identifiable, no survey commission can be issued in case in hand. They said the plaintiffs filed the application with “malafide intent” to unnecessarily complicate the suit.

The trial court order directed the DG of the ASI to get a comprehensive archaeological physical survey be done of the entire settlement plot no 9130 located at Mauja Shahar Khas, Pargana Dehat Amanat, including the Naubat Khana of the northern gate of the Gyanvapi compound and the house towards the northern gate of the Naubat Khana.

The committee had also been tasked with preparing a comprehensive documentation along with the drawing, plan, elevation site map with precise breadth and width of the disputed site marked with hatched lines in the plaint map.

The civil judge had also said that the committee formed by the ASI as per its directions would be entitled to enter every portion of the religious structure situated at the disputed site but shall first resort to only Ground Penetrating Radar or Geo-Radiology System or both to satisfy itself whether any excavation or extraction work is needed at any portion of the religious structure.

If excavation or extraction is to be done at any portion of the structure, it should be first done by trial trench method vertically and that too at a very small scale and not more than four square feet at a time, the court had said.


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Printable version | Oct 22, 2021 10:33:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/hc-order-soon-on-varanasi-mosque-case/article36346054.ece

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