The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a plea to club all civil suits related to the Gyanvapi mosque row filed by the Hindu side in a Varanasi court. The court said it would list the matter for hearing on April 21.
The court took note of the submissions of lawyer Vishnu Shankar Jain that the Varanasi district judge has deferred the decision on a plea seeking such clubbing five times. “We will list it for hearing on April 21,” said the Bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and J B Pardiwala.
Extension of protection
The apex court on November 11 last year extended till further orders the protection of Varanasi’s Gyanvapi mosque complex where a “shivling” was claimed to have been found. It had also 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.
Also read: ‘Shivling area’ at Gyanvapi mosque to remain sealed, rules Supreme Court
The Supreme Court had also directed the Hindu parties to file their replies within three weeks on the appeal by the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid committee challenging the Allahabad High Court order on the appointment of a survey commissioner.
On May 17 last year, the SC had passed an interim order directing the Varanasi district magistrate to ensure protection of the area within the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri complex where the structure claimed to be a “shivling” was found during a survey.
The mosque committee has, however, maintained that the structure was part of the water fountain mechanism at the wazookhana reservoir where devotees perform ablutions before offering namaz.
The video survey was ordered by the court of the civil judge (senior division) in Varanasi. The SC transferred the case to the district judge on May 20 last year, pointing to the “complexities” and the “sensitivity” of the issue and saying that a more senior judicial officer should handle it.
Also read: Gyanvapi case: Varanasi court rejects plea for carbon dating of ‘Shivling’
In its May 17, 2022 order, the top court had also directed that Muslims be allowed to offer namaz in the mosque. The SC had said the interim order shall remain in operation till the district judge decides the maintainability of the suit, 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 mosque’s outer wall. The Hindu side has also sought a survey of two locked basements within the mosque complex.
(With agency inputs)