Kashi Vishwanath vs Gyanvapi Mosque: Court orders ASI to survey disputed site

Stating that “the matter in dispute pertains to have connection with our deep history”, a Varanasi courtroom Thursday ordered the Director General of Archaeological Survey of India to “get a comprehensive archaeological physical survey” finished of the disputed Kashi Vishwanath Temple-Gyanvapi Mosque advanced and “find out as to whether the religious structure standing at present at the disputed site is a superimposition, alteration or addition or there is a structural overlapping of any kind, with or over, any religious structure”.

Fast Track Court Civil Judge (Senior Division) Ashutosh Tiwari’s order got here lower than a month after the Supreme Court sought the Centre’s response on a PIL difficult the constitutional validity of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 which mandates that the character of all locations of worship, besides the one in Ayodhya that was then underneath litigation, shall be maintained because it was on August 15, 1947, and that no encroachment of any such place previous to the date might be challenged in courts.

The Act, introduced in by the P V Narasimha Rao-led Congress authorities in the course of the top of the Ram temple motion, additionally applies to the disputed Kashi Vishwanath Temple-Gyanvapi Mosque advanced in Varanasi and the Krishna Janmabhoomi Temple-Shahi Idgah Mosque in Mathura – two locations, as soon as a part of the temple campaigns, later shielded by the 1991 regulation. Even the Supreme Court, in its landmarking November 2019 ruling on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title go well with which went in favour of the Hindu events, had underlined that the Act is “a legislative intervention which preserves non-retrogression as an essential feature of our secular values”.

Ruling on a 2019 software by lawyer-petitioner Vijay Shankar Rastogi — the unique go well with in 1991 was titled Ancient Idol Swayambhu Lord Vishweshwar and Others Vs Anjuman Intejamiya Masjid and Another — who known as it “a representative suit wherein the interest of large number of persons, having faith in Hindu religion, are at stake”, decide Tiwari’s order famous that “the question as to whether plaintiff’s suit is barred by section 4 of Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 and consequently by order 7 Rule 11 (d) of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908… were decided negatively by the predecessor court vide its order dated 18/10/1997… order was challenged in revision, and the revisional court vide its order dated 23/09/1998 directed this court to decide said issue afresh only after taking evidences of the parties”.


Shielded by regulation

The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, applies to the disputed advanced in Varanasi. The Act mandates that the character of all locations of worship, besides the one in Ayodhya that was then underneath litigation, shall be maintained because it was on August 15, 1947, and that no encroachment of any such place previous to the date might be challenged in courts.

He rejected the argument of the defendants – the Muslim events to the case – that since “a mosque has been entered at the disputed site in the revenue records, hence the same is not open for challenge,” saying “it is well settled that a revenue entry is not conclusive piece of evidence establishing the title of the person whose name has been mutated”.

Directing that copies of the order be served on the ASI, the Uttar Pradesh authorities and the Varanasi administration for “necessary compliance”, decide Tiwari ordered that the go well with be listed for additional orders on May 31.

The Sunni Central Waqf Board and the Anjuman Intejamiya Masjid, which had objected to the petition, stated they are going to strategy a better courtroom towards the order.

In his order, the decide famous that the plaintiff had stated the “temple existed since time immemorial” and that King Vikramaditya reconstructed it 2050 years in the past, that it was reconstructed once more in the course of the reign of Emperor Akbar. The plaintiff stated that following an April 18, 1669 farman from Emperor Aurangzeb, native officers “demolished the temple of Swayambhu Lord Vishweshwar and constructed a mosque with the help of the ruins of said temple”.

The plaintiff acknowledged that “since the Shivlinga of above said temple is self-existing and naturally arisen from deep inside the earth, hence even after demolition, the Swayambhu Shivlinga of Lord Vishweshwar continues to exist along the argha surrounding the Shivlinga at the very same place where it was prior to demolition of the temple”, and although they “continue to worship and offer prayers to Lord Vishweshwar by circumambulation… they and all the Hindus having faith in Lord Vishweshwara are deprived of their right to offer Jal to Shivlinga”.

In its order, the courtroom stated the Director General of ASI shall represent a 5-member committee of eminent individuals who’re specialists and well-versed within the science of archaeology, two out of which ought to ideally belong to the minority neighborhood.

It directed that an knowledgeable be appointed as an observer for the committee; the committee ought to report back to the observer concerning the survey work finished; that the whole survey be photographed and videographed, and on its completion, the committee ought to submit its report of the whole survey in a sealed cowl with out undue delay.

Following the order, plaintiff Vijay Shankar Rastogi stated: “This is a huge win for the Hindu side because the Muslim side argued that at the ground level it has been a mosque since the beginning. Whereas the Hindu side said that a temple was demolished and a mosque was built on the premises.”

He stated the unique petition was filed in 1991 by three individuals – Pandit Somnath Vyas whose ancestors had been clergymen of the temple, Sanskrit professor Dr Ramrang Sharma, social employee Harihar Pandey – and that he had been their counsel.

According to Rastogi, Vyas and Sharma handed away and within the 2019 petition, the plaintiffs had been Pandey, Lord Vishweshwar as the first petitioner, and that he himself as the subsequent buddy of the deity.

The Allahabad High Court, he stated, had earlier stayed the matter in 1998. “A judgment by the Supreme Court in 2018 ruled that any stay order which has extended beyond a period of six months will be considered void (unless extended by a speaking order showing extraordinary situation). The ruling came in the matter of Asian Resurfacing of Road Agency vs Central Bureau Of Investigation (CBI),” stated Rastogi.

UP Sunni Central Waqf Board chairman Zufar Farooqui stated: “We will be challenging the order in the Allahabad High Court. Our understanding is clear that this case is barred by the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991. The Places of Worship Act was upheld by a 5-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in the Ayodhya judgment. The status of Gyanvapi Masjid is, as such, beyond question. Even otherwise, we can say, as per legal advice, that the order of survey is questionable because technical evidence can only supplement certain foundational facts. No evidence has been produced before the Learned Court that suggests that there was a prior existing temple at the site of the mosque.”

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