The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the District Magistrate of Varanasi to ensure protection of area inside the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri complex where 'Shivling' is said to be found in the survey there, news agency PTI reported.
A bench comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and P S Narasimha was hearing the plea of the Committee of Management Anjuman Intezamia Masjid, which manages the affairs of Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi. The plea challenged an order of the Allahabad High Court permitting a court commissioner appointed by a civil court in Varanasi to inspect and conduct a survey and videography of the Gyanvapi Mosque. Both Hindus and Muslims have laid claims over the mosque premises for the right to worship.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered that Muslims can continue offering 'namaz' there without any impediment.
The top court, however, refused to stay further proceedings before the civil judge, Varanasi who is hearing the lawsuit related to the Gyanvapi mosque. Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta, who appeared on behalf of the State of Uttar Pradesh, objected to the staying of the proceedings as well.
The SC further ordered that the trial judge’s directions that only 20 people will pray and offer namaz will not operate, the Bar and Bench reported.
According to Bar and Bench, the apex court passed the following interim order: “"In order to obviate any meaning and dispute on order of trial judge, the operation and ambit of the order dated May 16, 2022, shall stand restricted to the extent that the DM Varanasi shall ensure that the area where Shivling is found will be duly protected. The above direction shall not in any manner restrain or impede access of Muslims to the mosque or use of it for performing prayers and religious observances."
It issued notices to the petitioner Hindu devotees and posted the plea of the mosque committee for hearing on May 19.
On Monday, a local court had ordered the sealing of a pond in the Gyanvapi Masjid complex after lawyers representing the Hindu petitioners said a Shivling was found there during the court-mandated videography survey.
A mosque management committee member disputed the claim, saying the object was part of the water fountain mechanism at the “wazookhana” reservoir -– where devotees carry out ablutions before offering namaz.
On Tuesday, Senior Counsel Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the Muslim party, submitted before the SC that all the orders passed by the civil court in Varanasi go against the Supreme Court judgment in the Ayodhya case,
"These are completely against the M Siddique judgment and the Ayodhya verdict. It says you cannot tinker the places of worship as existing on August 15, 1949. This is suspect to great mischief," he was quoted as saying by Bar and Bench.
"We will issue a direction to the trial judge to dispose of the application under Order 7 Rule 11 CPC," the Bench remarked, as per the report.
The lower court had appointed a court commissioner to conduct a survey and videography of the mosque site after Hindu parties filed a suit claiming that the Gyanvapi Mosque houses Hindu deities and that Hindus should be allowed to worship at the site. This order was challenged before Allahabad High Court, which dismissed the appeal on April 21.
Following this, the Masajid Committee filed a plea before the lower court claiming that the court commissioner was biased and should be replaced. The same was dismissed.
The survey team’s report was supposed to be submitted before the district court on Tuesday, but it has been delayed. The Supreme Court is also expected to hear this week a petition filed earlier against the survey ordered by a Varanasi district court.
Meanwhile, Varanasi District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma has warned against speculation on what has been found in the mosque, the PTI reported.