Gyanvapi: SC asks district magistrate to protect Shivling area, allows unimpeded access to mosque for Namaz

Supreme Court of India

New Delhi [India], May 17 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave directions to the District Magistrate of Varanasi for protection of the Shivling found from the Gyanvapi Mosque complex during a survey by court Commissioner.

A bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and PS Narasimha ordered that direction to protect the area where Shivling has been found shall not in any manner restrain or impede access of Muslims to the mosque or use of it for performing prayers and religious observances.

It has lifted the prohibition imposed by a Varanasi district court on Muslims from entering Gyanvapi Mosque. The trial court had permitted only 20 people to pray inside the premises.

"The area where Shivling as indicated in the impugned order (of Varanasi district court) is found shall be protected. The above order shall not in any manner restrict or impede the entry of Muslims to mosque for namaz or religious observances," the bench stated in its order.

The apex court also issued notice to the Hindu petitioners and Uttar Pradesh government on the plea of Anjuman Intezamia Masajid challenging the Varanasi district court order which directed videographic survey of the Gyanvapi Mosque complex, which is adjacent to the famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi.

The responses are to be filed by Thursday, May 19, when the matter will be heard next.

The Court, however, declined to stay proceedings before the district court as requested by Muslim side.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the State of Uttar Pradesh, objected on apex court's lifting the restriction on entry of Muslims in the area saying government's concern is that if the area where the Shivling is found is touched by feet then it will lead to law and order situation.

Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, who appeared for the petitioner Anjuman Intezamia Masajid Committee, raised his objection on court commissioner conducting the survey despite appeal against it pending before the top court.

Ahmadi said he was seeking a stay on all these orders passed by the trial court. "These orders are not good on ground of jurisdiction. These orders whereby the commission etc. have been appointed must come to a standstill. The status quo as it existed on date of suit should be maintained. All orders are illegal," argued the senior advocate.

The bench then suggested that it would direct the DM concerned to ensure that the place inside the mosque where Shivling is found is protected, but the same would not restrict the right of Muslims to offer Namaz.

The bench told the counsels, "If a Shivling is found, we have to maintain a balance. We will direct the District Magistrate to ensure protection of the place without restricting Muslims from praying."

Yesterday, a Varanasi district court directed sealing of a spot in the complex after being told that a Shivling was found inside the Gyanvapi Mosque premises by the court-appointed advocate Commissioner during the survey.

On Friday, an appeal was filed by Anjuman Intezamia Masajid Committee that manages the Gyanvapi mosque, challenging an order of Allahabad High Court permitting a court appointed commissioner to inspect, conduct survey and videography of the Gyanvapi mosque to which Hindus and Muslims have laid claim for right to worship.

It sought direction stay on the survey of the Gyanvapi Mosque complex.

A Varanasi civil court had directed a survey to inspect, conduct videography and collect evidence regarding the alleged existence of Hindu deities inside the Gyanvapi mosque located next to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple.

On May 12, the court said that the survey of the Gyanvapi mosque will continue despite objections from mosque authorities.

The local court had earlier directed the authorities to submit a report by May 10. However, the survey could not take place as the mosque committee had opposed the videography inside the mosque.

The civil court had appointed a court commissioner to conduct a survey and videography of the site and the same was challenged before Allahabad High Court which dismissed the appeal on April 21. The April 21 order of the High Court has been challenged in the apex court.

Five women had filed a petition in the court seeking permission for daily worship at the Shringar Gauri temple, which was allegedly situated inside the Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi Mosque premises.

The order of the civil court for undertaking survey and videography at the premises came on their petition.

Another petition filed by one Vijay Shankar Rastogi, who had contended that the entire premises belonged to the Kashi Vishwanath and that the Gyanvapi Mosque was only a part of the Temple, had also been pending in the court since 1991.

Rastogi had claimed that the Kashi Vishwanath Temple had been built over two thousand years ago and the temple had been demolished by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. (ANI)

Source: National

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