The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Gyanvapi Masjid committee to approach the Allahabad High Court against a Varanasi district court’s order that a Hindu priest can perform prayers before idols in a cellar of the mosque.
Lawyers representing the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee moved the Supreme Court registrar seeking an urgent hearing. The registrar conveyed to them that Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud had asked them to approach the high court.
In their application, advocates Nizam Pasha and Fuzail Ahmad Ayyubi submitted that under the garb of the order, the local administration, in “hot haste”, has deployed a massive police force on the site and is in the process of cutting the grills located at the southern side of the mosque.
“There is no reason for the administration to undertake this task in hot haste in the dead of the night as the order passed by the Trial Court had already given them one week to make the necessary arrangements. The obvious reason for such unseemly haste is that the administration in collusion with the plaintiffs is trying to foreclose any attempt by the Mosque Managing Committee to avail of their remedies against the said order by presenting them with a fait accompli,” their letter said.
In a significant development in the legal battle over the mosque adjacent to the Kashi Vishwanath temple, the district court on Wednesday ruled that a priest can perform prayers before the idols in a cellar of the Gyanvapi Masjid.
The prayers will be conducted — apparently at regular intervals — by a “pujari” nominated by the Kashi Vishwanath temple trust and the petitioner who claims his grandfather offered puja at the cellar up to December 1993.
The court has directed the local administration to make arrangements within seven days for prayers in the cellar.
The order by judge A K Vishvesha came a day after an Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) report on the mosque complex was made public.
The ASI survey, ordered by the same court, in connection with a related case, suggested that the mosque was constructed during Aurangzeb’s rule over the remains of a Hindu temple.
In an earlier order on January 17, the Varanasi court had directed that the district magistrate should take charge of the cellar. But it had not then given any directions on the right to offer prayers there.