Varanasi court directs ASI to make public its report on Gyanvapi mosque

The court was hearing several petitions by Hindu plaintiffs seeking access to the report

January 24, 2024 03:57 pm | Updated 07:44 pm IST - New Delhi

A team of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) during scientific survey at the Gyanvapi mosque complex, in Varanasi.

A team of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) during scientific survey at the Gyanvapi mosque complex, in Varanasi. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Varanasi district court on January 24 ordered that the report of the scientific survey of Gyanvapi mosque, conducted by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), be made public to allow all petitioners, both Hindus and Muslims, access to the same.

District Judge A.K. Vishvesha delivered the order while hearing a bunch of petitions filed by the Hindu petitioners seeking access to the report. The detailed order is awaited in which the court will direct the conditions for the parties to get the ASI report.

Also read: Wazukhana survey | Allahabad High Court judge recuses from hearing plea against Varanasi court’s order

The ASI, in its application in the court on January 3, had urged the district judge to delay the release of its Gyanvapi SurveyReport by four weeks. The agency has made this request to get breathing time to file the report in the 1991 suit pertaining to the Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi Mosque dispute currently pending in the Allahabad High Court.

The Central agency added that if the survey report is unsealed and disclosed in public before the submission of the copy of the said survey report in the High Court, there is more chance for rumours and misrepresentation that could affect its work.

The ASI had conducted a scientific survey of the Gyanvapi complex based on the orders of the Varanasi district court delivered on July 21. The court had asked the agency to determine if the mosque was constructed over a pre-existing structure of a Hindu temple.

Explained | The Gyanvapi Mosque-Kashi Vishwanath dispute and the current case

The Supreme Court, in August 2023, on the petition of the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee (which manages the Gyanvapi Mosque), had asked the ASI to not conduct any survey in the Wazukhana area of the mosque.

Started its ground survey in the last week of July, the ASI took five months to complete the exercise and submitted the report in court on December 12 last year.

On Wednesday, Justice Manish Kumar Nigam of the Allahabad High Court recused himself from hearing a plea challenging the Varanasi district court’s refusal to direct the ASI to conduct a scientific survey of the ‘wazukhana’ area except the ‘Shivling’, inside the Gyanvapi mosque complex.

The matter will now be placed before the Chief Justice who will nominate another judge to hear the matter. The next hearing in the case is fixed for January 31.

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