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Gyanvapi case: Allahabad High Court stops scientific survey till August 3, reserves order

Gyanvapi survey: The plea in the Allahabad High Court was filed by the Muslim side after a Varanasi court last week allowed the ASI to conduct the scientific survey of the Gyanvapi mosque (excluding the area sealed earlier) and asked the team to submit its report on August 4.

Reported By : Ruchi Kumar, Gonika Arora Edited By : Shashwat Bhandari
New Delhi
Updated on: July 28, 2023 0:21 IST
Gyanvapi mosque
Image Source : FILE PHOTO Gyanvapi mosque

Gyanvapi survey: The Allahabad High Court on Thursday said that it will deliver its judgement on the scientific survey of the Gyanvapi mosque on August 3 and stopped the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) survey till then.

The court was hearing the matter regarding the scientific survey of the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi, a day after it asked ASI not to proceed with the survey and stayed the district court's judgement.

The plea in the Allahabad High Court was filed by Anjuman Intezamia Masjid, which manages the mosque after a Varanasi court last week allowed the ASI to conduct the scientific survey of the Gyanvapi mosque (excluding the area sealed earlier) and asked the team to submit its report on August 4.

However, the Muslim side was not satisfied with the court's order and approached the Allahabad High Court.

Putting its arguments in the court today, the ASI told the bench that it will complete the survey by August 4 and won't cause any damage to the Gyanvapi premises.

The Chief Justice asked the Hindu side when was the temple built, to which Vishnu Shankar Jain said, "The new temple was built by Ahilyabai Holkar. Aurangzeb had demolished the old temple and built a mosque."

Terming that the petition of the Hindu side regarding the survey is premature, the Muslim side said that first they should collect all the evidence and only then such a survey shouls be ordered.

"We are just being harassed as at least nine suits are pending. Kashi Vishwanath Trust is not filing any suit, third persons are filing... We are facing about 19 suits at this stage in Varanasi regarding the Gyanvapi," said the councel representing the Muslim side.

Appearing for the state of Uttar Pradesh, Advocate General Ajai Mishra said the state government is there to maintain law and order and that it has no concern with the survey.

The counsel for the Hindu side, Vishnu Shankar Jain, submitted that the district court had ordered for the ASI survey to come to a "logical conclusion regarding existence of deities and nature and age of the structure".

He also presented in the court some photographs of the western side of the mosque showing the existence of Hindu idols.

During the hearing, SFA Naqvi, who represented the mosque committee, submitted that the matter regarding maintainability of a suit is pending before the Supreme Court and if the apex court later rules that the suit is not maintainable, then the entire exercise will be futile.

Thus, a survey should be done after the top court's decision on maintainability of the suit, Naqvi argued.

When the hearing started in the case, ASI Additional Director Alok Tripathi assured the court that the ASI is not going to do any digging at the structure.

Earlier, Naqvi said, "Court cannot be used to collect evidence by sending a commission, when the plaintiff had no evidence in support of his case."

Replying to this, Hindu side's lawyer Jain said, "Existence and non-existence of deities is a matter of evidence. To secure evidence, which is there and parties are not in position to produce themselves, the court can issue a commission to collect such evidence."

Naqvi told the court that the mosque committee has attached photographs of various digging equipment which the ASI team was carrying when it reached the mosque premises.

"It shows that they had intentions of digging the spot," he argued.

On this, Chief Justice Diwaker said that though they were carrying equipment, it doesn't show they had intentions to dig.

Later, Tripathi, the ASI official, clarified that as the ASI team visited the mosque site for the first time, it carried some equipment to remove debris.

Jain also showed photographs of western wall of the structure and said that there are various signs of Hindu religion, including "Swastik", engraved on the wall.

"There are a number of Hindu artifacts on the wall and inside the mosque. It can be proved by expert opinion which can be given by ASI. Aurangzeb while demolishing the temple raised a superstructure on the remains of the old temple and it will be determined by the ASI survey," Jain said.

Citing various court orders, Jain said that a survey/commission can be ordered at any stage of the trial and commission can be issued to collect evidence.

Advocate Punit Gupta appearing for UP Sunni Waqf Board argued that the application for ASI survey was premature as even in the Ram Janmabhoomi case an order for ASI survey was passed after recording oral evidence of the parties concerned. But, in the present case the oral evidence is not recorded yet, he said.

With inputs from PTI

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