Krishna Janmabhoomi Temple case: SC orders Continuation of Stay on Survey of Idgah complex

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered continuance of the interim stay on the operation of the Allahabad High Court order for a court-monitored survey of the Shahi Idgah Mosque complex adjoining the Krishna Janmabhoomi temple in Mathura.

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta posted the plea filed by the Committee of Management Trust Shahi Masjid Idgah for further hearing in the first half of April.

“Interim orders wherever granted shall continue. Re-list in first half of April, 2024,”

the bench said in its order and directed the parties to complete the pleadings by then.

The top court said all petitions pending before it on the issue will be taken up for hearing together in April.

The top court had on January 16 stayed the operation of the December 14, 2023 order of the Allahabad High Court which allowed a court-monitored survey of the Shahi Idgah Mosque complex.

It had also stayed the order of the high court by which it agreed to the appointment of a court commissioner to oversee the survey of the mosque premises, which the Hindu side claims hold signs suggesting that it was once a temple.

The apex court, however, made it clear that the proceedings before the high court in the dispute, including the maintainability of the suit under Order 7 Rule 11 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC), will continue.

It had said there are certain legal issues which have arisen and questioned the “vague” application made before the high court for appointment of a court commissioner for the survey.

The top court had issued notice to the Hindu bodies and sought their response on the Mosque committee’s plea.

The mosque committee, in its plea, has submitted that the high court ought to have considered its petition challenging the maintainability of the suit before deciding any related miscellaneous applications.

The committee had sought rejection of the plea on the grounds that the lawsuit is barred by the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, which puts a bar on change of character of religious places after August 15, 1947. The Ram temple in Ayodhya was the only exception to the 1991 law.

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While allowing the plea for a court-monitored survey, the high court had said no harm should be caused to the Mathura structure during the exercise, which it ordered to be overseen by a three-member commission of advocates.

The top court is already seized of another petition filed by the mosque committee challenging the May 26, 2023 order of the high court transferring to itself all matters related to the dispute pending before a Mathura court.

In Mathura, a suit was filed in the court of Civil Judge Senior Division (III) for shifting of the Shahi Idgah mosque elsewhere, with the Hindu side claiming it was constructed on a part of the 13.37 acre land of the Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi Trust.

The Hindu side had made a prayer before the high court that it should conduct the original trial like it had done in the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi title dispute.

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