New Delhi: The Supreme Court is on Thursday set to resume hearing a plea of the Committee of Management Anjuman Intezamia Masjid which manages Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi. In the prior hearing on Tuesday, the bench issued notices to the petitioner Hindu devotees while refusing to stay the ongoing proceedings before the lower court. An apex court bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and PS Narasimha passed the order to ensure the protection of the area inside the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri complex where ‘Shivling’ is said to be found in the survey.
The SC bench took up the matter at the fag end of the day’s scheduled cases listed for the day and directed the District Magistrate that Muslims be allowed to offer Namaz’.
In the Tuesday hearing, the apex court stated that it needed to balance the rights of contesting parties and clarified that the order of the civil judge (senior division), hearing the plea of petitioner Hindu devotees, directing authorities to ensure the protection of the area would not restrict and impede the rights of Muslim to offer Namaz and to perform religious observances.
“This is an interim arrangement till counsel for the plaintiff is here. We need to balance the rights of contesting parties. The order of May 16, 2022, to the extent that DM, Varanasi shall ensure the protection of area where Shivling’ is said to be found will not impede upon the rights of the Muslims to offer Namaz’ and perform religious observances,” the bench said in its order, as quoted by news agency PTI.
Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the Gyanvapi mosque committee, stated that the Muslims need to perform ‘wazu’ or ablution as without that ‘namaz’ would have no meaning under Islam.
Solicitor general Tushar Mehta, appearing for the UP government, submitted that though he is not a party to the civil suit the place where Shivling’ is said to be found is a place where Muslims perform wazu’ and any damage may create a law and order problem.
“They can perform ‘wazu’ somewhere else if it is necessary but the area where Shivling is said to be found needs protection,” the law officer said, as reported by PTI.
According to advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, a series of orders has been passed by the Civil judge which are unconstitutional, the latest of which was passed on Monday ordering the sealing of the area on an application by plaintiff’s lawyer Hari Shankar Jain in the ex-parte proceedings in which the survey report was yet to be filed.
He stated that since the top court is now seized of the matter, the entire proceedings before the civil judge needed to be stayed.
The bench, however, refused to stay the further proceedings before the civil judge and said, any judicial officer would understand the meaning of our orders. We don’t need to stay it.
Ahmadi claimed that under the garb of proceedings, the status quo of the religious place is sought to be altered as he sought for the orders of the civil court to be stayed, the court appointed commission to be stayed and status quo prior to the proceedings to be restored .
The Muslim side has been referring to the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 and its Section 4 which 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.
Gyanvapi Mosque Case: 3-Day Videography Survey
A court-mandated videography survey of the Gyanvapi Masjid complex took place in Varanasi on Monday, the team visited the site for the third consecutive day amid tight security. Varanasi District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma said that “no details of the survey of Gyanvapi mosque were disclosed by any member of the commission.”
The mosque is located close to the iconic Kashi Vishwanath temple and the local court is hearing a plea by a group of women seeking permission for daily prayers before the idols on its outer walls.
Sohan Lal Arya, a petitioner in the Gyanvapi mosque case said that the team found “conclusive evidence”, as he claimed that the survey committee found a Shivling at the complex.
“Shivling….Jiski Nandi pratiksha kar rahi thi… The moment things became clear, the chants of ‘Har Har Mahavdev’ resonated in mosque premises,” he claimed, as quoted by news agency ANI.
Following the claim, the Varanasi court ordered the District Magistrate of Varanasi, Kaushal Raj Sharma, “to seal the area where the Shivling was found and to bar people from going to the place.” In its order, the court stated that the DM, police commissioner, and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) commandant Varanasi will be responsible for the security of the sealed area.
(With Agency Inputs)