Monday, October 2, 2023

Allahabad High Court rejects revision of Varanasi court order regarding Hindu devotees seeking worship rights inside Gyanvapi Mosque complex

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The High Court of Allahabad on Wednesday dismissed a petition filed by the Anjuman Intazamia Mosque Committee that sought revision of the September 12, 2022 order passed by the Varanasi court on the maintainability of a suit by the Hindu worshippers, seeking worship rights inside the Gyanvapi Mosque complex.

Earlier in December 2022, the Single-Judge Bench of Justice J.J. Munir at the High Court had reserved its judgment after hearing Counsels for both the parties.

The Anjuman Intazamia Masjid Committee, which manages the Gyanvapi Masjid, had filed a petition in the Allahabad High Court in October 2022, days after a Varanasi Court dismissed the plea filed by the Muslim party contesting the maintainability of the suit through an application filed under Order VII Rule 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC).

Varanasi District Judge Ajay Krishna Vishwesha had observed on September 12, 2022 that the suit of the plaintiffs was not barred by the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, The Waqf Act 1995, and the U.P. Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Act, 1983 as was being claimed by the Anjuman Masjid Committee (which manages Gyanvapi Masjid).

The case pertained to Hindu devotees moving the civil court claiming the right to worship inside the premises of the Gyanvapi Mosque complex on the grounds that it was a Hindu temple, which still housed Hindu deities.

The court then ordered a survey of the Mosque complex by an Advocate Commissioner. After conducting a video-graphed survey, the Advocate Commissioner submitted a report to the Varanashi court.

The Masjid Committee then moved the High Court under Order VII Rule 11 of CPC, challenging the maintainability of the Hindu worshippers suit on ground that the Places of Worship Act of 1991, which was introduced at the height of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, sought to protect the status of all religious structures as it stood on August 15, 1947.

The petition mentioned Section 4 of the Act, which said that the religious character of a place of worship existing on August 15, 1947 shall continue to be the same as it existed on that day. It barred courts from entertaining cases regarding such places of worship. The plea further said that such cases already pending in courts would stand abated.

(Case title: Committee of Management Anjuman Intezamia Masajid Varanasi vs Smt Rakhi Singh and others)

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