New Delhi, May 17
The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered protection of the area where a ‘Shivling’ was reported to have been found at the Gyanvapi mosque-Shringar Gauri complex in Varanasi even as it clarified that there should be no restriction on Muslims offering namaz or other religious observances there.
Survey panel gets two more days for report
A local court in Varanasi on Tuesday granted two-day extension for submitting the final survey report in the Gyanvapi case, as requested by the survey team.
Details leaked, Survey Commissioner removed
The Varanasi court removed Survey Commissioner Ajay Mishra amid allegations of survey details being leaked to the media by one of his close aides.
The Bench, which also included Justice PS Narasimha, refused to stay the ongoing proceedings before the lower court but made it clear that the trial judge’s order that only 20 people would offer namaz at the disputed complex would not operate now. It issued a notice to the Hindu side and posted the matter for further hearing on May 19 after it was informed that advocate Hari Shankar Jain, who represented the Hindu side, was admitted to hospital in Varanasi.
“This is an interim arrangement till counsel for the plaintiff is here. We need to balance the rights of contesting parties. The order of May 16, 2022, to the extent that DM, Varanasi, shall ensure the protection of area where ‘Shivling’ is said to be found will not impede upon the rights of the Muslims to offer namaz and perform religious observances”, the Bench said in its order.
The order came from the Bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud on a petition filed by the Committee of Management of Anjuman Intezamia Masajid challenging the Allahabad High Court’s order permitting a local court-appointed commissioner to inspect, conduct survey and videograph the Gyanvapi mosque-Shringar Gauri complex.
On behalf of the state of Uttar Pradesh, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta urged the top court to pass any material order only after getting a factual report to avoid any unintended consequences.
On behalf of the Committee of Management of Anjuman Intezamia Masajid, senior counsel Huzefa Ahmadi said the mosque was covered under the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991. He said the trial court’s order was in the teeth of the Act.
After a court-mandated videography of the Gyanvapi complex discovered a ‘Shivling’ on its premises, Varanasi Civil Judge (Senior Division) Ravi Kumar Diwakar had on Monday ordered the place to be sealed.
On Thursday, the Varanasi court had asked the commissioner to submit the survey report by May 17. However, on Tuesday it gave two more days to the survey team to submit its final report. It also removed survey commissioner Ajay Mishra following allegations of survey reports being leaked to the media by one of his close aides. However, two other survey commissioners will continue their work.
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