Krishna Janmabhoomi: Allahabad HC Directs Mathura Court to Finish Hearing Idgah Survey Plea Within Four Months
On Monday, August 29, the Allahabad High Court directed a Mathura court to complete hearings in a matter pertaining to a petition demanding a survey of the land upon which the Shahi Idgah stands, next to the Katra Keshav Dev temple, that is believed to have been constructed at the birthplace of Hindu deity Krishna in Mathura.
Justice Piyush Agarwal disposed of a petition by Bhagwan Shri Krishna Virajman (the deity) through Manish Yadav, a devotee, and directed the court of civil judge (senior division) Mathura to conduct hearings without granting unnecessary adjournments, if there is no legal impediment.
Times of India quoted the order passed by the court: “Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, without expressing any opinion on the merits of the issue, the present petition stands disposed of finally with a direction to the concerned court below to consider and decide the application dated May 13, 2022, under Section 26 of CrPC pending in the aforesaid case in accordance with law expeditiously and preferably within a period of four months from the date of receipt of certified copy of this order, but certainly after giving an opportunity to the parties concerned and without granting unnecessary adjournments to either of the parties, if there is no legal impediment.”
This is significant given how the Mathura court had previously prioritized conducting day-to-day hearings about the maintainability of a related suit that demands the mosque be removed and the land be handed back to temple authorities. But proceedings in that petition demand the removal of the mosque were stayed by the High Court on August 4.
Brief background of the case
Readers would recall that on May 13, 2022, Manish Yadav moved the court of Civil Judge (Senior Division) Mathura demanding that an Advocate Commissioner be appointed to carry out an inspection of the Shahi Idgah. He claims to be a descendant of Lord Krishna.
On July 18, the Allahabad High Court had disposed of a petition to conduct a scientific investigation of the Shahi Idgah and Jahanara’s Mosque, by directing a Mathura court to decide on the plea, preferably within three months. That matter pertained to the petition filed before the High Court under Article 227 of the Constitution, where the plaintiff is Bhagwan Shri Krishna Virajman (the deity) and the defendant is the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board. The petitioner had previously, on April 14, 2021 moved the court of the Civil Judge (Senior Division) Mathura, under section 45 of the Evidence Act and the Provisions of Rule 10-A of Order XXVI of the Code of Civil Procedure for conducting Scientific Investigation of Shahi Eidgah and Jahanara's Mosque in Civil Suit No. 151 of 2021 (Bhagwan Shrikrishna Virajman and others vs. U.P. Sunni Central Waqf Board and others) within a stipulated time period.
The respondent i.e the Waqf Board, had also moved another application before the same lower court on July 16, 2022, under Order 7 Rule 11 of the Civil Procedure Code. According to Order 7 Rule 11, no petition can be entertained against the matter that is already protected by an existing law. In this case, the Waqf Board contends that the Shahi Idgah falls under the purview of the Places of Worship Act that disallows changing the character of a place of worship from what it was in 1947.
Therefore, the lower court first decided to hear the matter pertaining to the maintainability of the suit itself first, and daily hearings in the Mathura court began on July 25. On the same day, after hearing Yadav’s plea, the Allahabad HC asked why there was a delay in conducting hearings pertaining to the survey and asked the lower court to submit a report by August 2.
It is noteworthy that the primary petition, i.e the one moved by Ranjana Agnihotri as next friend of the deity seeking removal of the mosque and return of the land, had been dismissed by a lower court in September 2020, but restored by the district court in May 2022. Therefore, petitioners who are demanding a scientific investigation and survey of the mosque i.e Manish Yadav, and advocates Mahendra Pratap Singh and Rajendra Maheshwari, contended that the matter pertaining to the maintainability had already been addressed.
But on August 4, single-judge bench of Justice SK Rai stayed proceedings in a suit filed before the Mathura court that had sought removal of the Idgah. The court passed the order after hearing a petition by the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board challenging the May 19, 2022, order passed by the court of Mathura District and Sessions Judge Rajeev Bharati which had restored the suit against the Idgah, that had been previously dismissed by a lower court. The petitioners argued that the District Judge did not have the pecuniary jurisdiction to hear the revision as the value of the revision was more that RS 25,00,000/- (Rs 25 lakhs only).
The court had then directed that notice be issued to the respondents in the case, giving them the opportunity to file counter affidavits within eight weeks, and subsequently the petitioners are to file their rejoinders in four weeks after that. The court also directed that until then, further proceedings in the trial in the case (Misc. Case No. 176 OF 2020) before the shall remain stayed.
At present, nearly a dozen related petitions are being heard by the Mathura Civil Court. Petitioners, apart from the deity (represented by next friend Ranjana Agnihotri), Manish Yadav, and advocates Mahendra Pratap Singh and Rajendra Maheshwari, include Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha national treasurer Dinesh Sharma, Jitendra Singh Visen of the Vishwa Vaidik Sanatan Sangh (VVSS), Anil Kumar Tripathi, Pawan Kumar Shastri, Gopal Giri and Pankaj Singh. It is noteworthy that VVSS is also a petitioner in the Gyanvapi case that is being heard by a fast-track court in Varanasi. VVSS has demanded that Muslims be prohibited from entering the Gyanvapi complex, and that the entire Gyanvapi mosque premises be returned to Hindus.
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