Friday, December 8, 2023

Gyanvapi: Varanasi court rejects plea seeking survey of entire Wazukhana area except Shivling

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A Varanasi court in Uttar Pradesh has rejected a petition, which sought direction to the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) to undertake a survey of the Wazukhana area (except the ‘Shivling’) inside the Gyanvapi Mosque Complex, without causing any damage to the structure.

Filed by Rakhi Singh through Advocate Saurabh Tiwary under Section 75 (e) and Order 26 Rule 10A r/w Section 151 of CPC, the petition contended that the survey of Wuzukhana (excluding the Shivling) was necessary to ascertain the religious character of the property in question (Gyanvapi precincts).

Rakhi Singh is plaintiff no 1 in the Shringar Gauri Worshipping suit 2022, which is currently pending before the Varanasi court.

Dismissing the plea on Saturday, District Judge Ajay Krishna Vishwesha referred to the Supreme Court verdict of May 17, 2022, which ordered to duly protect the area where the purported Shivling was stated to have been found. 

The District Judge noted that it was not proper to direct the ASI to survey the area as it would violate the Apex Court order. 

He further said that the particular area was also excluded from the ambit of ASI survey ordered by his court vide an order dated July 21, 2023, passed in the 2022 suit.

On May 17, 2022, the Apex Court had directed the District Magistrate, Varanasi to ensure that the place inside the Mosque where the Shivling was stated to have been found, was protected. The Court extended this interim order on November 11, 2022.

On May 19 this year, the Supreme Court had 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 stayed 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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