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Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi case: Supreme court declines to stay survey, transfers matter to Justice Chandrachud

India News

The Supreme Court on Friday declined to pass any order on an appeal seeking urgent stay on the inspection of the Kashi Vishwanath temple-Gyanvapi mosque complex, saying it will decide on listing it for hearing after going through the files. It later directed that the matter be listed before a bench presided by Justice D Y Chandrachud.

A bench headed by CJI N V Ramana said it cannot pass any order without looking at the files. “I have no idea about this case. Let me look at the papers. We will list it…,” the CJI said as Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, brought up the matter during the mentioning hours – when urgent matters are brought to the attention of the court.
Ahmadi said “this is the mosque for time immemorial” and that the trial court order is “clearly interdicted by the Places of Worship Act-1991”.

“Let me see. I will give a date,” replied the CJI.

Ahmadi then sought a status quo order to which the CJI said, “Without knowing anything, how can I?…Let me see the file…”

The senior counsel responded, “But the penny might drop in the meanwhile…because the survey is being conducted right now”.
But the CJI told him, “Counsel, I don’t know anything. How can I pass any order? Sorry.” He added that he will go through the files and decide if and when it should be listed. “Suddenly you are mentioning.”

Hearing a plea by five women seeking permission to pray at the Maa Shringar Gauri Sthal at the complex, a Varanasi court court had on April 8 appointed Advocate Commissioner Ajay Kumar Mishra to carry out an inspection of the disputed site — and directed him to “prepare videography of the action” and submit a report.

The Muslim side has been referring to the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 and its section 4 that bars filing of any suit or initiating any other legal proceeding for a conversion of the religious character of any place of worship, as existing on August 15, 1947.

A Varanasi local court on Thursday rejected a plea to replace the advocate commissioner it had appointed for conducting a videography survey of the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri complex here and ordered the completion of the task by May 17.

The district court also appointed two more lawyers to help the advocate commissioner carry out the survey at the mosque, which is located close to the iconic Kashi Vishwanath temple. It ordered the police to register FIRs if there are attempts to scuttle the exercise. The local court’s May 12 order came on a plea by a group of women seeking permission for daily worship of Hindu deities whose idols are located on an outer wall of the mosque.

The mosque management committee had opposed filming inside the mosque and also accused the court-appointed commissioner of partiality. Amid the opposition, the survey was stalled for a while.

The court of Civil Judge (Senior Division) Ravi Kumar Diwakar also dismissed objections to the opening of the two closed basements on the mosque complex for the survey, according to the counsel representing Hindu petitioners. The court has also directed the district magistrate and the police commissioner to monitor the exercise and lodge an FIR if anyone created hurdles in the survey.

It said the survey could be done in the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri complex between 8 am and 12 pm daily till its completion. The survey report should be submitted by Tuesday. The videographic survey of the mosque was ordered on April 18, 2021 by Judge Diwakar following the plea by Delhi residents Rakhi Singh, Laxmi Devi, Sita Sahu and others.

The original suit was filed in 1991 in the Varanasi district court for the restoration of the ancient temple at the site where the Gyanvapi mosque currently stands.

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