The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to consider a plea for urgent listing of a petition by Varanasi’s Anjuman-e-Intezamia Masjid challenging a local court’s order to conduct a survey of the Gyanvapi mosque.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana, however, refused to grant an interim order of status quo on the survey.
The bench told senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the Muslim side in the Gyanvapi mosque case, that no direction could be passed in the absence of the relevant paper or petition filed by the organisation in support of its contention.
“I have no idea about this case. Let me look at the papers. We can consider it only after we see the files,” the bench, also comprising Justice J.K. Maheshwari and Justice Hima Kohli, said.
Ahmadi cited a local court’s order directing the appointment of an advocate as a court commissioner to inspect the mosque and sought status quo but the bench refrained from passing any order till the files relating the issue were examined by it.
The senior counsel submitted that the survey was to be conducted on Friday by the court commissioner and the place was covered under the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, but the bench insisted that the files and the petition should be placed before it.
In the present case, five Hindu devotees had filed a suit before a local Varanasi court for a survey of the mosque to determine the existence of Hindu idols, as according to them it was earlier a Hindu shrine which fell to the vandalism and subsequent occupation by the invading Moghul army.
The 1991 Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, barred litigation on any place of worship for change of its character as existed in 1947, except Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi case which was decided in 2019 by the top court.
In March last year, the Apex court had issued notice to the Centre for its response on the petition filed by advocate
Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay challenging the validity of Sections 2, 3, 4 of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991, which according to him not only offend Articles 14 (equality), 15(non- discrimination), 21(life and personal liberty), 25, 26, 29(freedom of religion) but also violates the principles of secularism.
According to the petition, the legislation which came into force on 11.7.1991, has created arbitrary irrational retrospective cutoff date, declared that character of places of worship-pilgrimage shall be maintained as it was on 15.8.1947 and no suit or proceeding shall lie in Court in respect of disputes against encroachment done by fundamentalist barbaric invaders and law breakers and such proceeding shall stand abated.