Allahabad HC allows court-monitored inspection of Mathura’s Shahi Idgah mosque

Petitioners claim that the mosque was a temple

Updated - December 14, 2023 10:07 pm IST

Published - December 14, 2023 04:44 pm IST - Prayagraj

A View of the Shahi Idgah mosque in Mathura. File

A View of the Shahi Idgah mosque in Mathura. File | Photo Credit: MOORTHY RV

The Allahabad High Court on December 14 allowed an application seeking appointment of a court commission to inspect the Shahi Idgah mosque, which sits next to the Krishna Janambhoomi temple in Mathura.

The inspection will be done by a court-monitored three-member team of advocate commissioners, and the modalities and composition of the commission will be decided on December 18.

The order comes at a time when the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is already conducting a scientific survey of the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi, after petitioners claimed that it was a Hindu temple.

The order of inspection of the Shahi Idgah was pronounced by Justice Mayank Kumar Jain. The plea was filed on behalf of Hindu deity, Bhagwan Shri Krishna Virajman and seven others, who in their original suit pending before this court, have claimed that the mosque was built over Krishna Janmabhoomi (birthplace) land, on the orders of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in 1670.

The main suit seeks removal of the mosque from the over 13-acre complex it is built on.

Petition flags symbols

In the plea seeking appointment of a commission for inspection of the property in dispute situated at Katra Keshav Dev, Mathura, the plaintiffs claimed that there are number of signs that establish that the building in question was a Hindu temple. This includes kalash and a pinnacle on top of the building that exemplifies Hindu architectural style, which is not present on any Islamic structure. Also, a pillar located above the main gate of the property has a lotus-shaped top, a classic characteristic of Hindu temples.

“The image of Sheshnaag, one of the Hindu deities, is etched on the wall of the current structure. According to Hindu scriptures, Lord Sheshnaag protected Lord Shri Krishna on the night of his birth. At the base of the pillar in the present structure, one can see visible Hindu religious symbols and engravings,” the plaintiffs said in the plea.

Objecting to the plea for appointment of the commission, the respondents – the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board and three others – submitted in the court that the main suit was filed in the year 2020 and the present application was preferred in 2023, with no reason being assigned by the plaintiffs for the delay.

The High Court then noted that the application for appointment of commission was filed by the plaintiffs on the first date of hearing before this court.

“Moreover, the application for appointment can be moved by any party to the suit at any stage and any time during the pendency of the suit. Even otherwise, if the application for appointment of commission is allowed by this court, the rights of the defendants would not be prejudiced in any way,” the court order reads.

The court also noted that by the appointment of a panel of three advocates as commission, either party would not suffer any harm or injury and that the commission report does not affect the merits of the case.

“....during the execution of the commission, the sanctity of the campus can be directed to be maintained strictly. Further, it may be directed that no harm or injury be caused to structure in any manner,” the court said.

It added that the commission may also submit its discovery as to existence of particular signs at the property as referred by the plaintiffs. It also said that the representative of the plaintiffs as well the defendant may accompany the commission to assist them.

To mention, a local court in Mathura in September 2020, had dismissed the suit filed by the same persons citing the bar on admitting the case under the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991.

A Mathura district judge, however, overturned the local court’s order in May 2022.

In May 2023, the Allahabad High Court allowed a plea moved by the Hindu side seeking the transfer of the suit from the trial court to the High Court. The HC then ordered for the transfer of all (around a dozen) cases pertaining to Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi-Shahi Idgah Mosque dispute to it.

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