Gyanvapi Masjid dispute: Court hearing adjourned, date of second survey of premises to be decided after verdict

New Delhi:

The hearing related to the Gyanvapi Masjid-Sringar Gauri temple complex dispute was on Monday adjourned after hearing both sides. The mosque management committee (Anjuman Intezamiya Masjid) had appealed to the court to replace the court-appointed commissioner Ajay Kumar Mishra, who was appointed to oversee the video survey of the mosque. The case is being heard by Varanasi Civil Judge (Senior Division) Ravi Kumar Diwakar.

The court-appointed commissioner and his team visited the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri temple complex in Varanasi on May 8, but could not conduct a video survey of the mosque due to protests by Muslim believers.

Abhay Nath Yadav, counsel for the Masjid Management Committee, told the media persons that the court had ordered not to do videography inside the mosque but to do so till the ‘chabutra’ (courtyard) outside the barricading. 

Yadav said, “The videography and survey started and was videographed till the ‘chabutra’ in the western part of the mosque. After that when the commissioner tried to enter by opening the entrance of the mosque, I opposed this and said that the court has not given any such order under which videography can be done inside the mosque.”

Vishnu Jain, a lawyer representing the Hindu side, claimed that several Muslim men were present in the mosque and they did not allow the videography team to enter the mosque area as per the court order.

Significantly, on April 26, 2022, Justice Diwakar had ordered videography by the Advocate Commissioner of Shringar Gauri Temple in the Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi Masjid complex and other places before May 10, 2022.

The videography survey of Maa Shringar Gauri site in Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi complex will resume after the court pronounces the verdict.

Gyanvapi Masjid controversy

The Varanasi court on April 8 directed a five-member ASI team to study the entire premises of the campus, the cost of which would be borne by the Uttar Pradesh government. The order is based on a petition filed by Vijay Shankar Rastogi, who argued that the entire complex belongs to the temple.

Stating that the original Kashi Vishwanath temple was built 2,000 years ago, the petition states that the Gyanvapi Masjid was constructed in 1669 after the temple was demolished by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. The temple was rebuilt in 1780 by Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar. The Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, which bars courts from considering any petition changing the status quo of any religious place, is not applicable to this suit, they have argued.

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