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Allahabad high court clears way for further ASI study at Gyanvapi mosque, if required | India News – Times of India


PRAYAGRAJ: The Allahabad high courtdismissed Tuesday petitions filed by Anjuman Intezamia Masajid (AIM) and the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board challenging a bunch of civil suits by Hindu litigants seeking the right to worship at the Gyanvapi complex and “restoration” of a temple, while claiming that the 17th-century mosque in Varanasi was constructed over a pre-existing structure of a temple.Justice Rohit Ranjan Agarwal clarified that the Places of Worship Act, 1991 does not bar these civil suits, and emphasised the “national importance” of the dispute.
The judge said the 1991 law prohibits the conversion of a place of worship, and the original plaintiffs did not seek “conversion”. Instead, they requested a declaration about the religious character of a portion of the Gyanvapi complex. The high court asserted that the determination of the “religious character” of a disputed place should be addressed through judicial proceedings. Agarwal said the compound can possess either a Muslim or Hindu character, and this determination should not occur during the framing of issues. “It is not a suit between the two individual parties. It affects two major communities of the country,” the court observed.
High Court clears way for further ASI study at Gyanvapi mosque, if required
The high court directing the trial court to expeditiously decide the suit, preferably within six months. “No unnecessary adjournment shall be granted to any of the parties,” the judge ruled.
Gyanvapi mosque management committee AIM responded to the verdict, saying the legal battle would continue. “Though this is a setback, we will not surrender. The decision has been taken and we honour it, but justice has not been done. We will fight the legal battle till the last breath. We will decide further course of action after studying the judgment and discussing it,” said AIM joint secretary Mohammad Yaseen.
The legal battle also involved a challenge to an April 2021 order of the Varanasi civil court permitting an ASI survey of the Gyanvapi complex as part of another case, where five women sought permission for daily worship of Goddess Shringar Gauri and other deities on the mosque premises.
The HC addressed AIM’s objection, stating that the scope of the survey as part of the original 1991 suit was more extensive. The court directed that the ASI report be submitted before the trial court in this case as well, suggesting that further investigation could be pursued if deemed necessary.
The original suit dates back to October 15, 1991, filed in Varanasi civil court on behalf of “the ancient idol of Swayambhu Jyotirlinga Bhagwan Vishweshwar” and others. It sought the restoration of the land where the Gyanvapi mosque stands, adjacent to the Kashi Vishwanath temple. The suit also demanded the removal of Muslims from the complex area and the demolition of the mosque, alleging it was constructed after demolishing the Adi Vishweshwar temple.
AIM and Sunni Waqf Board challenged the suit in the civil court, which initially dismissed the Hindu side’s plea in September 1997, citing non-maintainability under the Places of Worship Act, 1991. Multiple revision petitions were filed, leading to a district court order in September 1998, directing civil court to re-adjudicate the dispute.
AIM challenged this in the Allahabad HC, which stayed the case in October 1998. The stay persisted until February 2020 when the petitioners sought the civil court to resume the hearing. As the HC had not rectified the stay as ordered by the SC, the civil court resumed the hearing.
A fresh petition for an ASI survey was filed in April 2021, and the AIM and Sunni Waqf Board challenged this order as well as the maintainability of the original suit, leading to Tuesday’s judgment by Justice Agarwal.


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