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Upendra Bharti | HENB | New Delhi | Nov 11, 2022:: The Supreme Court of India Friday said that its May 17 interim order protecting the area in the Kashi Vishwanath temple-Gyanvapi mosque complex, where a ‘Shivling’ was claimed to have been found during a video graphics survey of the mosque premises, would continue till further orders.
A bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice Surya Kant and Justice PS Narasimha also allowed the Hindu parties to move an application before the Varanasi district judge for consolidation of all the lawsuits filed on the Gyanvapi row.
In the May 17 order, the Court had clarified that the order for the protection of “shivling” area will not obstruct the rights of Muslims to offer namaz and other religious observances in the mosque.
The bench was considering a special leave petition filed by Anjuman Intezemia Masjid Committee (which manages the Gyanvapi Mosque) challenging the survey ordered by the Varanasi Civil Court in a suit filed by five Hindu women seeking the right to worship the deities in the mosque premises throughout the year.
On May 20, the Court had ordered that the interim order will operate for a period of eight weeks after the decision of the Varanasi District Court on the application filed by the Masjid Committee challenging the maintainability of the Hindu worshippers’ suit. On September 12, the District Court the District Court dismissed the application of the Masjid side. Since 8 weeks from the date of the said order will expire on November 12, the plaintiffs had yesterday sought the urgent listing of the case for the extension of the interim order. Accordingly, the matter was listed today.
Senior Advocate Ranjit Kumar, who appeared for the Hindu plaintiffs, submitted that the Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed by the Masjid committee has become “infructuous”. “The challenge was about the order appointing Advocate Commissioner. My friends (Masjid side) have been participating before the Advocate Commissioner,” he said, Live Law reported.
In response, Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, who appeared for the Masjid Committee, submitted that the application had been filed by the plaintiffs with “incorrect averments” that the defendants have been participating in the Commission proceedings. According to Live Law, Ahmadi said, “I need to get instructions on this. Prime facie to say it is infructuous is not correct because the order appointing Commission was challenged. There is no question of acquiescence. I filed an SLP challenging the order appointing Advocate Commissioner.”
Hearing a petition by five Hindu women seeking the right to worship at Maa Shringar Gauri Sthal, on the outer wall of the mosque complex, a Varanasi court had on April 8 appointed an Advocate Commissioner to carry out an inspection of the site, to “prepare videography of the action”, and submit a report. The mosque committee had challenged this before the Allahabad High Court, which dismissed the appeal on April 21. The committee then approached the Supreme Court.
Hearing it in May this year, the SC, however, said that “ascertainment of the religious character of a place is not barred by… the Act” and declined to stay proceedings before the Varanasi court. It asked the district magistrate to secure the area where the ‘Shivling’ was claimed to have been found, without impeding or restricting the rights of Muslims to access and offer namaz at the mosque.
Two weeks ago, the Varanasi District Court dismissed an application filed by the plaintiffs for carbon-dating and scientific investigation of the “shivling”. “If Carbon Dating or Ground Penetrating Radar is permitted and if any damage is caused to the ‘Shiva Linga’ then it would be a violation of the Supreme Court order to protect it and it might also hurt the religious sentiments of the general public,” remarked the Varanasi Court.
After that, the Hindu parties approached the Allahabad High Court with a demand of ASI and scientific survey of the Shivling and Shivling areas without damaging it if possible. The concerned Court of Law asked the affidavit from the ASI in this matter as the next date of hearing on this is fixed on 21 Nov accordingly.
Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain of Hindu sides has clarified the matter in an interview with News 18 as below:
“We are satisfied with the directions of Hon’ble Supreme Court for the extension of the interim order today as sought for and under the blessings of Lord Vishwanath, the victory will come in favour of the truth at last…” Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain told HENB.
__Inputs from Live Law, Indian Express and News 18.