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Vatsala Gaur | ET Bureau | New Delhi | April 6, 2023:: The Allahabad High Court on Wednesday rapped the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for yet again failing to file its reply regarding what kind of technique would be best suited to survey the contested Shivlinga-like structure at the Gyanvapi mosque.
The HC dubbed the attitude of the director general of the ASI as “lethargic” and “highly deplorable”. It said things cannot be kept pending for long when the matter has an “element of high publicity all over the country”, giving the ASI time till April 17 and “no more”, as a “last opportunity”.
In November, the ASI had asked the HC for three months to consult with specialists and give a comprehensive reply on how a scientific investigation of the contested structure could be carried out without damaging it. The matter had come to the HC after a lower Varanasi court had rejected the Hindu petitioners’ plea seeking an ASI-led survey citing that if during the exercise, either using carbon dating or ground penetrating radar (GPR) method, the shivlinga is harmed in any way, it will be in violation of a previous SC order which had called for “protection” of the area where the structure was situated and that it may also cause religious sentiments to get hurt.
On January 20, the ASI was given eight weeks’ time to file its reply. However, even by March 20 the ASI was unable to file its reply. They were given time till April 5, but it failed to give its opinion even on that day.
Read also: Gyanvapi-Kashi Vishwanath case: Allahabad High Court slams ASI chief for lethargic attitude, failure to file response on Shiva Linga
“Certainly, this lethargic attitude on the part of the Director General, Archaeological Survey of India, is highly deplorable and such a practice must be deprecated. The desired report has not been submitted though directed since last November 2022,” the HC said in a stern observation adding that the inaction has hampered the proceedings of the court.
“A high authority holding the post of Director General, Archaeological Survey of India, controlling the particular administration all over the country must know the seriousness of the matter and ought to respect the orders of the court, primarily of the higher courts. Though the Director General, Archaeological Survey of India, does not deserve any further time, it would be in the fitness of things before proceeding straightway with consideration of merit of this revision, to give a last chance to submit its report. Things cannot be kept pending for long when the matter has an element of high publicity all over the country. This court will not permit any authority to delay on the pretext of the submission of the desired report of the Archaeological Survey of India,” the HC stated.
Sources told ET that ASI had constituted a committee of four specialised institutions including IIT Roorkee, IIT Kanpur, Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciencies, Lucknow, and one other institution and had held discussions with them and received their presentations. The last of the presentations were given on March 23 but there was a delay in preparing the consolidated report of the four bodies which will be submitted by April 17.
Courtesy: Economic Times | Bar & Bench.
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