Varanasi Court Grants One More Week to ASI to Submit Gyanvapi Survey Report

The Varanasi district court on Monday gave one more week to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to submit a scientific survey report of the Gyanvapi mosque complex here.

District Judge A K Vishvesh gave additional time to the ASI and fixed December 18 as the next date of hearing in the matter.

This is the sixth time that the court has granted an extension to the ASI to file its survey report.

Madan Mohan Yadav, counsel for the Hindu side, said that the ASI in its application expressed its inability to submit the report on Monday citing the ill health of its superintending archaeologist Avinash Mohanty who had suffered a sudden increase in blood pressure and was unable to attend the court.

Earlier, the court had granted additional time to the ASI on September 6, October 5, November 2, November 17 and November 30.

The ASI started the survey in the barricaded area of the Gyanvapi premises, excluding its sealed section, on August 4, following court orders to determine whether the 17th-century mosque was constructed over a pre-existing structure of a Hindu temple.

On November 30, the district court had asked the ASI to submit the survey report of the Gyanvapi complex by December 11.

In its application, the ASI had stated that its experts are working on various types of data collected by archaeologists, surveyors and other experts, etc., and assimilation of information generated by different experts and different tools is a difficult and slow process and it will take some more time to complete the report for final submission.

On November 2, the ASI told the court it had “completed” the survey but may take some more time to compile the report, along with the details of the equipment used in the survey work.

The court then granted additional time till November 17 for submitting the document.

But, its counsel again sought 15 more days due to the non-availability of the technical report and the district judge then asked it to submit its report by November 28.

The ASI is carrying out the scientific survey of the Gyanvapi premises, located next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple, to determine whether the 17th-century mosque was constructed over a pre-existing structure of a Hindu temple.

On October 5, the court granted four more weeks to the ASI and said the duration of the survey would not be extended beyond this.

The survey had begun after the Allahabad High Court upheld the Varanasi district court order and ruled that the step was “necessary in the interest of justice” and would benefit both the Hindu and Muslim sides in the dispute.

During an earlier hearing, the mosque management committee had objected to the survey, alleging that the ASI was digging the basement and other places of the mosque complex without permission and accumulating debris on the western wall, posing a risk that the structure might collapse.

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The ASI team was not authorised to survey the premises by removing debris or garbage, the mosque panel had said.

The Gyanvapi committee had also moved the Supreme Court against the high court’s order. The apex court had, on August 4, refused to stay the high court’s order on the ASI survey.

In its order, the bench of Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, however, asked the ASI not to carry out any invasive act during the survey. This ruled out any excavations, which the Varanasi court had said could be conducted if necessary.

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