The Muslim side on Monday filed its objection before the Varanasi district court to a petition seeking a direction to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to survey the entire Gyanvapi mosque complex.
The Supreme Court had on May 19 deferred a scientific survey, including carbon dating, to determine the age of the structure, claimed to be a ‘Shivling’, found at the complex, saying implications of the Allahabad High Court order on it merits closer scrutiny.
The direction had come on the plea of the Anjuman Islamia Masjid Committee against the high court’s May 12 order for the determination of the age of the structure using modern technology. However, the mosque authorities have maintained that the structure is part of a fountain in the ‘wazu khana’, where ablutions are performed before namaz.
After the high court order, the district court had on May 16 agreed to hear a plea for a survey by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) of the entire Gyanvapi mosque premises located next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple.
On Monday, Rajesh Mishra, special counsel for Gyanvapi and Adi Vishweshwar cases, told PTI that the Masjid Committee filed its objection in the court of District Judge AK Vishwesh to the petition.
Mishra said that the court has fixed July 7 for the next hearing.
The Masjid Committee, its objection, contended, that a petition of the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board and another petition against the April 8, 2021 order of the Civil Judge (Senior Division) of Varanasi for a survey of the Gyanvapi-Shangar Gauri complex by the ASI is pending in the High Court. The court has reserved its decision on both petitions.
In such circumstances, the question of conducting an ASI survey again on the same property and the same point does not arise, it said while urging the court to dismiss the petition.
“The report of the commission or the report given by the ASI after investigation cannot be called for the purpose of collecting evidence. Actual facts relating to the building cannot be proved by oral evidence.
“In such a situation, the application seeking an ASI report to collect evidence is against the law and is not legally sustainable,” the Committee also said.
Mishra said that the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee was supposed to file its objection on May 19 but could not do so due to the hearing in the Supreme Court.
An apex court bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud had issued notices to the Centre, the Uttar Pradesh government and the Hindu petitioners on the plea of the Masjid Committee against the May 12 high court order.
“Since the implications of the impugned order merit closer scrutiny, the implementation of the directions concerned in the order shall stand deferred till the next date,” the bench also comprising justices P S Narasimha and K V Vishwanathan said.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government, expressed concerns regarding damage to the structure during the process and said the government will examine in consultation with the Archaeological Survey of India if there is an alternative method to ascertain the age of the “Shivling” found at Gyanvapi.
The high court had obtained a report from various institutions, including the IITs in Kanpur and Roorkee, and the Birbal Sahni Institute in Lucknow, before ordering for determination of the age of the structure.
The ASI, in its 52-page report, had given the opinion that the age of the structure can be determined through scientific methods without causing any harm to it.
In August 2021, a suit was filed in the Varanasi District Court seeking the right to regular worship of Maa Shringar Gauri and other deities whose idols the petitioners submitted are located in the mosque’s complex.