Gyanvapi: HC rejects PIL seeking panel to ascertain truth about disputed structure

It was claimed by the Hindu side that a Shivling was found during a videography survey of the Gyanvapi mosque-Shringar Gauri complex last month.

The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on Friday declined to entertain a PIL seeking the establishment of a committee headed by a retired or sitting judge of the Supreme Court or a high court to ascertain the truth about a structure recently found in the Gyanvapi mosque complex in Varanasi.

After hearing the public interest litigation (PIL) at length, a vacation bench of Justices Rajesh Singh Chauhan and Subhash Vidyarthi dismissed the plea and said it would issue a detailed order later.

It was claimed by the Hindu side that a Shivling was found during a videography survey of the Gyanvapi mosque-Shringar Gauri complex last month.

The claim was disputed by the mosque committee members who said it was part of the water fountain mechanism in the wazookhana reservoir, used by devotees to perform ritual ablutions before offering namaz.

The PIL was filed by Sudhir Singh, Ravi Mishra, Mahant Balak Das, Shivendra Pratap Singh, Markendey Tiwari, Rajiv Rai and Atul Kumar, claiming themselves to be devotees of Lord Shiva.

The petitioners have made the central government, the Uttar Pradesh government and the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) as opposite parties in the matter.

Appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government, Chief Standing Counsel (in-charge) Abhinav Narayan Trivedi vehemently opposed the PIL arguing that it was not maintainable here as Varanasi falls in the territorial jurisdiction of the Allahabad High Court instead of the Lucknow bench.

He also stressed that since the Supreme Court is already seized of the matter, the same plea cannot be presented here. The counsel for the central government and the Archeological Survey of India (ASI), S M Royekwar, also opposed the PIL.

Earlier, the petitioners counsel Ashok Pandey submitted that the contested claims over the structure have been leading to disputes between communities not only within the country but across the world. Such disputes could have been avoided if the ASI and the governments had discharged their responsibility by appointing a committee to ascertain the truth regarding the structure, he said.

The petitioners had requested the high court to direct the ASI and the governments to appoint a committee to be headed by a retired or sitting judge of the Supreme Court or a high court to find out the truth about the structure.


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