Gyanvapi Survey| Supreme Court upholds Varanasi Court's order to protect the Shivling, removes restriction on usage of mosque premises

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A Supreme Court bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and PS Narasimha today, while upholding the order of Varanasi court to protect the area where the indicated Shivling has been found modified it to the extent that the local court's direction in any manner will not restrain access of Muslims to the mosque or use of it for performing prayers and religious activities.

The Varanasi Local Court, on Monday, ordered the District Magistrate, Varanasi to seal the place where the 'Shivling' has been found. The Court also placed personal responsibilities on the DM, Police Commissioner, and CRPF Commandant of the city to protect and secure the sealed place. 

When the matter came up for hearing today, Huzefa Ahmedi, Sr. Adv,  representing the mosque committee, argued that the prayers in the suit speak of changing the religious character of the disputed site.

Ahmedi told the court the they had objected to the appointment of one of the commissioners as the plaintiff had in their application named the commissioner and that an apprehension maybe created if the person named in the application is appointed as the commissioner.

Speaking of the observations of the High Court while dismissing the plea challenging the order of appointment of commissioner, Ahmedi said, “The observation of the High Court that it will only be innocuous was proved wrong by the subsequent events.”

Ahmedi argued that the Court-appointed commission carried out the survey on Saturday and Sunday despite knowing that the order of the Allahabad High Court has been challenged before the Supreme Court.

Ahmedi further argued that an application was filed before the local court yesterday saying that a Shivling has been found and that it should be protected despite there being no report of the commissioner. "This is improper. Under the garb of the commission proceedings and based on what the plaintiff said they have restricted entry into the mosque," Ahmedi said.

He argued that the order of the lower court is in the teeth of the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Ayodhya matter. Ahmedi told the court that these orders were passed without even considering the application of rejection of plain that was moved.

Ahmedi said, “It's almost like sealing a property. What is the entire basis of the suit? It is that there was a historical wrong that has been committed, there was a temple on this site. This has been dealt with by Ayodhya. It's a bit too dangerous to allow this to go on."

Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, appearing for the State of UP, informed the court that he will take instructions on the factual positions and apprise the court of the same.

Taking note of the same, Justice Chandrachud suggested, "We will issue notice and keep it at a short date. We will issue a direction that the place where the Shivling is found be protected but this will not impede Muslims from entry and prayer.”

SG, however, replied, “Wazukhana is a place where people wash their hands and legs before the prayer. The concern of the Magistrate is if it is of something of great importance. Suppose somebody goes there and there is some damage or destruction."

SG further told the court that the order passed by the court may have some ramifications and requested the court to adjourn the matter stating that he will reply to the court’s queries tomorrow.

Court, therefore, issued notice in the matter and listed the matter for hearing on Thursday. It clarified that in the meanwhile the ambit of the order of the local court at Varanasi shall stand restricted to the extent that the District Magistrate at Varanasi shall ensure that the area where the Shivling is reported to have been found shall be duly protected.

The court however clarified that the direction will not in any manner prevent or restrict the rights of the Muslims to the mosque or the use of it for religious purposes.

Court, however, refused to stay the proceedings before the trial court. The matter will now be heard on Thursday (May 19, 2022)

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