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regular-article-logo Monday, 15 April 2024

Supreme Court to hear Gyanvapi mosque panel, suit claiming site for temple challenged

The Anjuman Intezamia Masjid, which manages the mosque that shares its compound with the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi, argued that the suit was barred by the Places of Worship Act, 1991

R. Balaji New Delhi Published 02.03.24, 06:07 AM
Devotees leave after offering namaz at the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi on Friday.

Devotees leave after offering namaz at the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi on Friday. PTI picture

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to examine a plea from the Gyanvapi Masjid management that contests the maintainability of a 1991 suit that claims the site for Hindus saying the mosque was built after demolishing parts of the original Kashi Vishwanath Temple.

The Anjuman Intezamia Masjid, which manages the mosque that shares its compound with the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi, argued that the suit was barred by the Places of Worship Act, 1991.

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This law stipulates status quo at all places of worship as they existed on August 15, 1947, barring the erstwhile Babri Masjid in Ayodhya.

The mosque committee has appealed against a December 19, 2023, judgment by Allahabad High Court that upheld the maintainability of the 1991 suit filed by certain Hindu groups.

The high court had ruled that the 1991 suit was not barred by the Places of Worship Act, and that the religious character of the Gyanvapi mosque had to be decided by a civil court through a detailed hearing.

On Friday, the Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice J.B. Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra agreed to examine the mosque committee’s appeal.

The bench tagged the matter with similar petitions moved by the Gyanvapi mosque committee, Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind and certain others challenging the maintainability of similar suits filed by Hindu groups in the apex court in 2021.

The date of hearing has not been fixed yet.

Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, representing the mosque committee, told the bench that the matter needed a “detailed hearing”.

Senior advocate C.S. Vaidyanathan appeared for certain Hindu claimants, and solicitor-general Tushar Mehta for the Uttar Pradesh government. Senior advocate Harish Salve informed the bench that he was representing certain private respondents in the matter.

A controversy had erupted in 2022 following the purported discovery of a Shiva linga during a survey of the Gyanvapi premises on a directive from the Varanasi district court. The mosque committee contested the finding.

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