Court Revives Dormant Dispute, asks ASI to Survey Gyanvapi Mosque Next to Kashi Vishwanath Temple

New Delhi: A Varanasi civil courtroom on Thursday ordered the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to ‘survey’ the Gyanvapi Mosque situated subsequent to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple after petitioners representing the temple claimed that the land on which the mosque stood truly belonged to them.

The petition was opposed by the Gyanvyapi Mosque administration committee, Anjuman Intazamia Masazid, LiveLaw reported.

The Varanasi courtroom’s order upends the Locations of Worship Act of 1991, which declared that “the spiritual character of a spot of worship present on August 15, 1947, shall proceed to be the identical because it existed on that date” and that “no swimsuit, attraction or different continuing with respect to … such matter shall lie on or after such graduation in any courtroom, tribunal or different authority.”

The legislation was handed within the wake of the agitation underway on the time by Hindutva teams for varied mosques – together with the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi and the Idgah in Mathura – to be transformed into temples. The 1991 Act excluded the Babri Masjid from its purview since a civil swimsuit was already pending however barred any contemporary makes an attempt to transform an present place of worship from one faith to a different.

The Supreme Court docket has admitted quite a few challenges to the constitutionality of the 1991 legislation, together with two filed by Bharatiya Janata Celebration MPs, however the legislation stays in drive.

The courtroom held, based on Bar and Bench,

“Numerous individuals together with Indians and Non-Residents, belonging to 2 religions are equally in figuring out the reality of the reason for motion of the plaintiffs in addition to of the defence of the defendants…The circumstances within the case in hand are such that not one of the events are ready to guide direct proof to show their assertions and counter assertions, as at presently hardly any individual could be alive to return and testify earlier than this courtroom…

…This courtroom is of the view that for the reason that defendants have outrightly denied the factum of demolition of the temple of Lord Vishweshwara in obedience of farman of Badshah Aurangjeb on the disputed website and subsequent conversion of the identical right into a mosque, therefore in these circumstances it’s incumbent on the a part of this courtroom to seek out the reality.”

The bench additionally dismissed the defendants’ argument that income information proved the mosque was not on disputed property.

“…a income entry is just not conclusive piece of proof establishing the title of the individual whose identify has been mutated…A profitable problem can doubtlessly compel the income authorities to convey vital alteration within the income information…”

Along with a bodily survey by the ASI, the courtroom additionally ordered {that a} five-member committee be constituted comprising specialists in archaeology. Two of the members ought to ideally be from the minority neighborhood, the courtroom mentioned.

In line with Bar and Bench, this committee is meant to “discover out whether or not the spiritual construction standing on the disputed website is a superimposition, alteration or addition or if there may be structural overlapping of any sort over another spiritual construction. If there may be any such construction, the Committee is to look at the age, dimension, monumental and architectural design or fashion of the spiritual construction standing on the disputed website and what supplies have been used to construct the identical. The Committee is to hint if any temple belonging to the Hindu neighborhood ever existed earlier than the mosque was constructed or superimposed or added on the disputed website. In that case, the Committee is to seek out out the age, dimension, monumental and architectural design or fashion and so forth. and what Hindu deity or deities the identical was dedicated to.”

Through the survey and different analysis, the courtroom held, Muslims should nonetheless be allowed to supply namaz on the website. Nonetheless, the general public and media won’t be allowed to observe or be briefed concerning the survey proceedings. The outcomes of the survey are to be given to the courtroom in a sealed cowl.

The temple facet’s claims

The temple facet’s petitioner, Vijay Shankar Rastogi, together with 4 others, claims that the Gyanvapi Mosque got here up in 1669 after Mughal emperor Aurangzeb pulled down a portion of the two,000-year-old Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Rastogi mentioned he has filed the petition in his capability as the subsequent pal of the Historical Idol of Swambhu Lord Vishweshwar.

The petitioners claimed that it was King Vikramaditya who had constructed the temple about 2050 years in the past in the midst of the place the Gyanvapi Mosque at present exists and consecrated idols of Lord Vishweshwar. It was partly pulled down a number of occasions through the Muslim rule in India, the petitioner mentioned.

In 1669, the petitioner argued, Aurangzeb had demolished a number of colleges and temples together with the temple in query primarily based on “fallacious data” that “depraved science is being taught”. He additional mentioned that the identical account was substantiated by Ma Asir-I-Alam Giri in Arabic printed in 1871 by the Asiatic Society of Bengal.

“In line with Muslim legislation, it’s not lawful to supply prayers on the land of one other individual with out his consent and likewise the Muslims should not lawful to supply prayers over the land occupied by the temple of Lord Visheshwar,” Bar and Bench quoted the petition as saying.

The petitioners offered a historic account to try to show that the piece of land belonged to Hindus and the temple in query. In line with them, a riot happened between Hindus and Muslims in 1809 on the Gyanvapi compound when Hindus pressured Muslims out of the land.

Compensation was served on the mosque after the riots, and disputed land was given away to Hindus in 1928. Thereafter, based on petitioners, a number of riots happened within the space when successive district magistrates had allowed Muslims to supply prayers inside the disputed construction, with out “[affecting the] civil proper of the plaintiffs”, which means the rights over the property rests with the Hindus or temple authorities.

The petitioners alleged that Muslims, protected underneath administrative orders, had carried out namaz inside and even past the bounds of the disputed construction, which was protested by the Hindus.

“The bottom ground cellar of the positioning continues to be in possession of the plaintiffs and the construction standing over it (mosque) is illegally being utilised by the Muslims in respect of which they haven’t any proper, title or curiosity of any sort in any way,” the petitioners alleged.

The petitioners claimed that the explanation for the current petition dates again to October 13, 1991 when Muslims had declined to let Hindus take possession of the “unlawful construction”.

Within the wake of the above reasoning, the Hindu facet petitioned that the Muslim occupation of the land in query be dominated unlawful, and the identical be restored to the temple authorities.

The courtroom ordered the Uttar Pradesh authorities to hold out a survey of the Gyanvapi Mosque by ASI and to bear the bills for a similar.

Sunni Waqf Board to attraction

In an announcement issued within the night of April 8, Zufar Ahmad Faruqi, chairman of the Uttar Pradesh
Sunni Central Waqf Board mentioned that the order of the Varanasi choose could be challenged earlier than the  Excessive Court docket.

“Our understanding is obvious that this case is barred by the Locations of Worship (Particular Provisions) Act, 1991. The Locations of Worship Act was upheld by a 5 choose Structure Bench of the Supreme Court docket within the Ayodhya judgment. The standing of Gyanvapi Masjid is, as such, past query.”

Even in any other case, mentioned Faruqi, the order of an ASI survey “is questionable as a result of technical proof can solely complement sure foundational info.” He mentioned that no proof has been produced earlier than the courtroom that implies that there was a previous present temple on the website of the mosque. “Even within the Ayodhya judgment, the ASI excavation was in the end of no use. The ASI didn’t discover proof that the Babri Masjid was constructed upon demolition of a temple. The Hon’ble Supreme Court docket has particularly noticed that there was no such proof.”

Faruqi added that “this observe of mosques being ‘investigated’ by the ASI must be stopped.”

Hyperlink to Kashi hall?

Previously, the mosque authorities have expressed the worry that one of many goals of the Yogi Adityanath authorities’s ongoing efforts to create a hall from the ghats of the Ganges to the Kashi Vishvanath temple is to clear land across the Gyanvapi with a view to its eventual takeover.

Sayid Yasin, basic secretary on the Anjuman Intazamiya Masjid, the physique that acts as caretaker of the Gyan Vapi mosque, drew a parallel with Ayodhya of 1992. “Earlier than the Babri masjid was demolished,” he informed The Wire, “the world round it was cleared. All the pieces round it was introduced down until the mosque stood alone and uncovered. And since the world was cleared, it meant that lakhs may collect. They did, and ultimately demolished the mosque.”

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