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Gyanvapi: Allahabad High Court stays ASI survey till August 3, reserves verdict

The High Court of Allahabad on Thursday reserved its verdict on a petition filed by the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee challenging the Varanasi court order directing scientific survey of the Gyanvapi Mosque by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

The Single-Judge Bench of Chief Justice Pritinker Diwaker, while staying the July 21 verdict of the Varanasi District Court, listed the matter for final hearing on August 3.

The High Court passed the order after hearing both the parties today.

The Anjuman Mosque Committee had filed an appeal before the High Court on Wednesday, challenging the order of the Varanasi Court directing the ASI to survey the mosque premises (except for Wuzukhana).

On May 19, the Supreme Court put on hold the scientific survey ordered by the Allahabad High Court of a structure found inside the Varanasi Gyanvapi mosque, to ascertain whether it was a Shivling, as claimed by the Hindu plaintiffs, or a fountain, as claimed by the Muslim side.

The Bench of Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice P.S. Narasimha and Justice K.V. Viswanathan deferred till the next date of hearing, the directions issued by the Allahabad High Court in its May 12 order.

It observed that since the implications of the impugned order merit closer scrutiny, the implementation of the directions concerned in the High Court order shall stand deferred till the next date of hearing.

The Anjuman Islamia Masjid committee, which manages the Gyanvapi Mosque in Varanasi, had moved the Apex Court against the Allahabad High Court verdict of May 12 that ordered a scientific survey of the Shivling.

Representing AIMC, Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi said that the survey steps would commence on Monday.

He submitted that the High Court passed the order, even as the judgment on the petition filed by the Masjid Committee questioning the maintainability of the suit has been reserved since December 2022.

As per Ahmadi, the ASI’s report was presented before the Court on May 11 and the order was passed the next day, without giving proper opportunity to the Mosque Committee to file detailed objections.

Appearing for the state of Uttar Pradesh, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta expressed concerns regarding damage to the structure during the survey.

Representing the Hindu plaintiffs, Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain submitted that the ASI report said the survey can be done without causing damage to the structure and requested the Bench to call for the report.

On May 12, the Single-Judge Bench of Justice Arvind Kumar Mishra-I had directed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to conduct a scientific survey (using modern techniques) of the ‘Shivling,’ which was purportedly found inside the Gyanvapi Mosque premises in Varanasi, to ascertain its age.

The High Court had further allowed a revision plea moved by four women Hindu worshippers against the October 14 order of the Varanasi court, which had rejected their plea.

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