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Gyanvapi mosque complex: ASI again seeks more time to submit scientific survey report

The survey had begun after the Allahabad High Court upheld the Varanasi district court order and ruled that the step was 'necessary in the interest of justice' and would benefit both the Hindu and Muslim sides in the dispute

PTI Varanasi Published 28.11.23, 06:02 PM
Representational picture.

Representational picture. File picture

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Tuesday sought three more weeks from the district court here for submitting the scientific survey report of the Gyanvapi mosque complex. The court will hear the plea on Wednesday.

The district court of Varanasi had asked the ASI to submit the report on the Gyanvapi Masjid complex by November 28.

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On Tuesday, the ASI sought an extension of three weeks, saying it needed more time for the assimilation of information generated by different experts, counsel for the Hindu side Madan Mohan Yadav said.

In its application, the ASI said that its experts are working on various types of data collected by archaeologists, surveyors and other experts, etc.

"Assimilation of information generated by different experts and different tools is a difficult and slow process and it will take some more time to complete the report for final submission.

"The court is therefore requested to give three more weeks to ASI to submit it," Yadav said quoting the application of the ASI. The court has fixed November 29 for hearing the application for a time extension, he said.

The ASI has been conducting the survey in the barricaded area of the Gyanvapi mosque premises, excluding its sealed section, since August 4, following court orders.

The ASI was earlier given time till November 17 to submit the report but its counsel had sought 15 more days due to the non-availability of the technical report, and District Judge A K Vishvesh then asked the ASI to submit its report by November 28.

The ASI is carrying out the scientific survey of the Gyanvapi premises, located next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi, to determine whether the 17th-century mosque was constructed over a pre-existing structure of a Hindu temple.

On November 2, the ASI told the court it had "completed" the survey but may take some more time to compile the report, along with the details of the equipment used in the survey work. The court then granted additional time till November 17 for submitting the document.

On October 5, the court granted four more weeks to the ASI and said the duration of the survey would not be extended beyond this.

On August 4, the court granted the ASI an additional month to complete the survey, extending its original deadline (from August 4) to September 4. It provided another four-week extension for the survey work on September 6.

The survey had begun after the Allahabad High Court upheld the Varanasi district court order and ruled that the step was "necessary in the interest of justice" and would benefit both the Hindu and Muslim sides in the dispute.

During an earlier hearing, the mosque management committee had objected to the survey, alleging that the ASI was digging the basement as well as other places of the mosque complex without permission and accumulating debris on the western wall, posing a risk that the structure might collapse.

The ASI team was not authorised to survey the premises by removing debris or garbage, the mosque panel had said.

The Gyanvapi committee had also moved the Supreme Court against the high court's order. The apex court had, on August 4, refused to stay the high court's order on the ASI survey. In its order, the bench of Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, however, asked the ASI not to carry out any invasive act during the survey.

This ruled out any excavations, which the Varanasi court had said could be conducted, if necessary.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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