Supreme Court extends protection for area around ‘shivling’ found inside Gyanvapi mosque premises

The Muslim parties did not raise an objection to the request.

November 11, 2022 05:29 pm | Updated November 12, 2022 11:58 am IST - NEW DELHI

An aerial view shows the Gyanvapi mosque, left, and the Kashiviswanath temple on the banks of the Ganga in Varanasi.

An aerial view shows the Gyanvapi mosque, left, and the Kashiviswanath temple on the banks of the Ganga in Varanasi. | Photo Credit: AP

The Supreme Court on November 11, 2022 directed the protection of an area in which a ‘shivling’ was reportedly found inside the Gyanvapi mosque premises to continue until further orders.

A Special Bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, Justices Surya Kant and PS Narasimha further allowed the Hindu parties to approach the Varanasi District Court for consolidation of all suits concerning the Gyanvapi dispute.

The dispute began when several Hindu women moved a civil suit in a Varanasi court seeking a judicial declaration of their right to offer worship to deities they claimed where present in the mosque site. The court had ordered a survey to be done by an Advocate Commissioner. The survey led to the alleged discovery of the ‘shivling’. In May, the Supreme Court had transferred the case to the ‘seasoned hands’ of the Varanasi District Judge for adjudication.

On May 17, the Bench led by Chief Justice Chandrachud had struck a balance by ordering the area around the shivling to be protected while allowing Muslims to offer namaaz in the mosque. On May 20, the apex court had intervened again to direct that the May 17 order would operate during the adjudication of the challenge made by the Muslim parties under Order VII Rule 11 of the Civil Procedure Code against the maintainability of the declaratory suit filed by the Hindu women who want to worship inside the mosque and continue to do for a further eight weeks following the outcome of the case before the District Judge.

Also read: Gyanvapi case | BJP, Hindu groups hail Varanasi court’s verdict

On September 12, the District Judge had dismissed the maintainability plea of the Muslim parties, adding that the cuit was not barred by the Places of Worship Act. A criminal revision petition is pending in the Allahabad High Court.

On Friday, senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, for the Hindu parties, informed the court that the eight weeks was expiring on November 12 and sought an extension of the protection.

The Muslim parties did not raise an objection to the request.

However, they objected when Mr. Kumar argued that the petition filed by the Muslim parties against the appointment of the Advocate Commissioner had become infructuous and ought to be disposed of. Mr. Kumar said the Muslim parties were now “participating” before the Advocate Commissioner.

However, senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, for the Muslim parties, said their petition in the apex court against the appointment of the Advocate Commissioner was hardly infructuous as claimed by the opposite side.

Instead, Mr. Ahmadi said, the entire case of the Hindu parties would fall if the apex court eventually set aside the appointment order.

He said everything that happened, including the video survey and “discovery” of the ‘shivling’ in the mosque premises, began with the appointment of the Advocate Commissioner by the Civil Judge.

Mr. Ahmadi also sought more time to get instructions from his clients to rebut the allegations made by the Hindu parties that they were “participating before the Advocate Commissioner”.

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