Gyanvapi dispute | Order deferred on maintainability of plea seeking to prevent Muslims from stopping Hindu prayers

The order is now expected to be delivered on November 17, when the matter is listed for next hearing

Updated - November 14, 2022 09:55 pm IST

Published - November 14, 2022 04:37 pm IST - VARANASI (U.P.)

An aerial view shows the Gyanvapi mosque, left, and the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi

An aerial view shows the Gyanvapi mosque, left, and the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi | Photo Credit: AP

A Varanasi fast-track court on Monday once again deferred its order on the maintainability of an application seeking the title rights to the property on which the Gyanvapi mosque currently stands, in favour of the deity Swayambhu Jyotirlinga Bhagwan Vishweshwar and seeking unfettered rights for Hindus to pray at the property.

This comes days after the Supreme Court, hearing a plea of the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, continued interim protection of the mosque premises, while the civil suit in the Gyanvapi masjid-Kashi Vishwanath temple is being heard by the district judge in Varanasi.

This application before the fast-track court was filed by one Kiran Singh, the International General Secretary of the Vishwa Vedic Sanatan Sangh, on behalf of the deity as his next friend and was eventually transferred to the fast-track court of civil judge (senior division) Mahendra Kumar Pandey.

The application argued that as the District court hears the civil dispute in the case, the deity had the right to possess the property and that Hindus had a right to pray there without any disturbances. The application also sought that the Masjid Committee and all of its members and “agents” be prevented from interfering with Hindu rituals and worship activities by means of a “prohibitory injunction” and that the structure currently standing there (the mosque) be “removed”.

The Supreme Court had earlier this year maintained that no Muslim should be prevented from worshipping at the site and that the area of dispute should be protected. Last week, the top court extended these interim orders till further orders.

In response to Ms. Singh’s application, the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee had filed an application under Order 7 Rule 11 of the Civil Code of Procedure, calling into question the maintainability of the application. After hearing arguments, Civil judge Pandey reserved his orders on the maintainability on October 27.

The order was listed next for November 8 but was deferred as the judge was on leave and subsequently listed for Monday, when the judge again deferred it. The order is now expected to be delivered on November 17, when the matter is listed for next hearing, Advocate Shivam Gaur told The Hindu. Mr. Gaur and his team are representing Ms. Singh in this matter.

Significantly, Ms. Singh is related to Jitender Singh Visen, the chief of VVSS, and Rakhi Singh, who is listed as the lead plaintiff in the main civil dispute over the property, currently being heard by District Judge A.K. Vishvesha.

In the matter before the district court, Ms. Rakhi Singh and four other Hindu women have sought the right to pray to Maa Shringar Gauri and other visible and invisible Hindu deities at the Gyanvapi mosque premises all year round. The Masjid panel had challenged this application’s maintainability but the district court ruled in favour of the Hindu plaintiffs, paving the way for the suit to be tried. The Masjid panel has challenged this order in the Allahabad High Court, which is hearing arguments on this.

Meanwhile, four of the Hindu plaintiffs had sought a scientific investigation of the alleged “shivling” found inside the mosque premises in May this year after a court-ordered video survey. The district court had rejected this plea citing the Supreme Court directive to protect the place after the Masjid panel had challenged the order directing the survey in the first place.

However, the Hindu plaintiffs have now gone to the Allahabad High Court, seeking that the Archaeological Survey of India be directed to conduct a survey of the alleged “shivling” and the High Court has sought a response of the ASI on this plea.

After the video survey was leaked to the public in violation of court orders, the Hindu plaintiffs claimed the disputed structure was a “shivling”. The Masjid panel has vehemently denied this, insisting that the structure found was part of the mosque’s wuzu khana.

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