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Supreme Court stays Varanasi court order directing ASI survey of Gyanvapi Mosque Complex till July 26

The Supreme Court on Monday stayed till July 26, the order passed by the Varanasi district court on July 21, directing the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to conduct scientific survey of the Gyanvapi Mosque Complex.

The Bench of Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice J.B. Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra passed the order on an urgent mentioning made by the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Management Committee.

The Bench noted that it was giving ‘breathing time’ to the Gyanvapi Masjid committee to approach the Allahabad High Court against the Varanasi Court order, since it was passed on a Friday evening.

The Apex Court, while explaining that it has not gone into the merits of the matter, directed the Varanasi Court not to conduct the survey till 5 pm of July 26.

The Court passed this order to allow some “breathing time” to the Gyanvapi Masjid committee to approach the Allahabad High Court challenging the District Court’s order, considering that it was passed on a Friday evening and clarified that it has not gone into the merits of the matter.

The Bench told the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Management Committee to approach the High Court by July 25.

It further directed the Allahabad High Court Chief Justice to allow a hearing before the interim order expired on July 26.

Appearing for ASI, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta apprised the Apex Court that it was not planning to carry out any excavation of the Gyanvapi site at least for a week, even though the Varanasi District Court had allowed such excavation to determine if the 16th century mosque was built over a pre-existing temple.

On July 21, the Varanasi District Court had directed the ASI to conduct a scientific survey of the entire Gyanvapi Mosque premises (except for Wuzukhana), in order to find out whether the 16th Century Mosque had been constructed over the pre-existing structure of a Hindu temple.

The order was passed by District Judge A.K. Vishwesha after hearing both parties on July 14.

The District Court directed the ASI to conduct the scientific survey between 8-12 am.

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