Varanasi: The hearing in the Varanasi Gyanvapi Mosque case will now be held from Thursday. In accordance with the Supreme Court’s orders, the court will take up the Muslim side’s application on the maintainability of the suit under order 7, rule 11.
The process of hearing in the case will start on Thursday (May 26), with the ‘maintainability’ issue coming first. The court also ordered the two sides to file affidavits with their objections to the survey report within a week.
The mosque committee says that filming at the mosque violates a 1991 law that prevents the alteration of the character of any place of worship in the country. It wanted the ‘maintainability’ case to be heard first, which the court has agreed to.
The Supreme Court had asked the Varanasi court to decide on priority whether the survey at the Gyanvapi mosque and the petition that led to the survey was ‘maintainable’ or not.
“I told the court that it is a mandate of the Supreme Court that our application saying the case is not maintainable should be heard first. I read out my application and also the Supreme Court order. The opposing counsel said he needed more documents and time to file objections to our application, but I said the maintainability must be decided first,” said Abhay Nath Yadav, a lawyer for the Mosque committee.
The court also said that both the sides be given copies of the video survey and one week’s time to file their objections, if any.
Early last week, lawyers representing the Hindu petitioners claimed that a ‘Shivling’ was found during the videography survey of the Gyanvapi mosque-Shringar Gauri complex.
The claim was disputed by the mosque committee members who said it was part of the water fountain mechanism in the wuzukhana reservoir, used by devotees to perform ritual ablutions before offering namaz. The district court had then ordered the sealing of the ‘wuzukhana’.
This application relates to whether the reliefs sought by the five Hindu petitioners can even be granted by a court of law. The Muslim side is expected to argue that the suit is barred by the 1991 Place of Worship Act.
There are no specific orders yet on whether the matter will be heard on a day-to-day basis from May 26 onwards. Preliminary arguments will begin on May 26.
The district judge Dr A.K. Vishvesha has also asked for objections to the Gyanvapi mosque survey report filed by the commission from both parties.
It may be recalled that a petition filed in 1991 in a Varanasi court claimed that the Gyanvapi Mosque was built on the orders of Aurangzeb by demolishing a part of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple during his reign in the 16th century.
The petitioners and local priests sought permission to worship in the Gyanvapi Mosque complex.
The Allahabad High Court in 2019 ordered a stay on an ASI survey that was requested by the petitioners.
The current controversy started when five Hindu women sought to routinely worship Shringar Gauri and other idols within the Gyanvapi mosque complex.
Last month, a Varanasi court ordered a videographed survey of the Gyanvapi Masjid complex after the five Hindu women filed pleas, seeking to worship behind the western wall of the premises.