Friday, December 8, 2023

Kashi Vishwanath temple-Gyanvapi mosque case: Allahabad HC to hear case next on July 26

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During the hearing in the Allahabad High Court on Friday in the Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi Masjid case, the counsel for the temple said the provisions of the Waqf Act, 1995 are applicable only to Muslims and it is to resolve the dispute between Muslims.

A Single Bench of Justice Prakash Padia heard the petition filed by Anjuman Intazamia Masjid Varanasi.

Vijay Shankar Rastogi, counsel for the petitioner, said the provisions of the Act are not binding upon Hindus.

Rastogi argued that if any dispute arises between Waqf Board and a non-Muslim, a notice is to be issued to the opposite party. In the matter, no notice or opportunity was ever given to the plaintiffs, therefore, the property in dispute cannot be treated or said to be Waqf property.

Rastogi argued after commencement of the Act 1995 property which are un-registered or were registered previously, were all required to be registered again. In the case, the property in dispute has admittedly never been re-registered as required after commencement of Act, 1995 and, therefore, the property in dispute cannot be termed as Waqf property.

Rastogi said the temple of Lord Visheshwar has been in existence from ancient times, i.e, Satyug and is in place till now and that Swayambhu Lord Visheshwar is situated in the disputed structure, therefore, the entire property vests in Swayambhu Lord Visheshwar. He placed reliance upon the definition “Temple” given under the Uttar Pradesh Sri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Act, 1983 which has been affirmed by the Supreme Court in the case of Sri Adi Visheshwara of Kashi Vishwanath Temple Varanasi & others Vs State of UP and others reported in 1997 4 SCC 606.

On the other hand, S.F.A Naqvi, Senior Counsel, replied that the properties which were registered earlier before the commencement of Act, 1995 are not required to be registered again. He placed reliance upon Section 43 of the Waqf Act, 1995 which is reproduced herein below:-

“43. [Auqaf] registered before the commencement of this Act deemed to be registered.—Notwithstanding anything contained in this Chapter, where any [waqf] has been registered before the commencement of this Act, under any law for the time being in force, it shall not be necessary to register the [waqf] under the provisions of this Act and any such registration made before such commencement shall be deemed to be a registration made under this Act.”

Naqvi further argued that insofar as the Uttar Pradesh Sri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Act, 1983 is concerned, the same is for management of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple alone and the said Act is in no manner related to the present dispute.

Due to paucity of time, the arguments could not be concluded. The Court has fixed the next hearing of the petition on July 26, 2022.

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