On Thursday (April 6), the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid committee approached the Supreme Court regarding the ongoing closure of the wazukhana, the area where worshippers perform ablutions before prayer, at the Gyanvapi mosque complex in Varanasi throughout the holy month of Ramzan.
The apex court had on November 11 last year extended till further orders the protection of the area where a Shivling was claimed to have been found.
The matter was mentioned on Thursday before a bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud.
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Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the Masjid committee, requested the bench to take up the matter for hearing soon, contending the holy month of Ramzan is underway.
He said due to the sealing of an area inside the mosque, the access to bathrooms has also been stopped.
The CJI said the matter is scheduled to come up on April 21.
Ahmadi urged since the month of Ramzan has started an earlier date would be better.
“Why don’t you file an IA (interlocutory application)? We can list the IA on April 14,” the bench said.
On March 28, the apex court had agreed to list for hearing on April 21 a plea of the Hindu side seeking consolidation of all suits filed in a Varanasi court pertaining to the Gyanvapi mosque complex row.
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The bench had taken note of the submissions of lawyer Vishnu Shankar Jain that the district judge of Varanasi has deferred five times the decision on a plea seeking clubbing of all civil suits pertaining to the dispute.
The apex court had earlier allowed the Hindu parties to move an application before the Varanasi district judge for consolidation of all lawsuits filed on the Gyanvapi mosque-Shringar Gauri row.
It had also directed the Hindu parties to file their replies within three weeks to the appeal by the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid committee challenging the Allahabad High Court order on appointment of a survey commissioner.
On May 17 last year, the top court had passed an interim order directing the Varanasi district magistrate to ensure protection of the area inside the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri complex where the structure claimed to be a Shivling was found during a video survey ordered by the court of the civil judge (senior division) in Varanasi.
The mosque committee, however, maintained the structure was part of the water fountain mechanism at the wazukhana, the reservoir where devotees perform ablutions before offering namaz.
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The apex court had transferred the case to the district judge on May 20 last, pointing at the “complexities” and the “sensitivity” of the issue and saying that a more senior judicial officer should handle it.
In its May 17 last year order, the top court had directed protection of the area around the claimed Shivling while also allowing Muslims to offer namaz in the mosque.
It had said the interim order shall remain in operation till the maintainability of the suit is decided by the district judge, and then for eight more weeks to allow the aggrieved parties to approach a higher court.
The Varanasi district judge is now hearing the plea by a group of women seeking permission for daily worship of idols of Hindu deities located on the mosques outer wall. The Hindu side has also sought a survey of two locked basements in the mosque complex.
(With agency inputs)