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Allahabad HC hearing in Gyanvapi case; expresses strong doubts about survey work; asks ASI official to appear at 4.30 pm

Allahabad HC hearing in Gyanvapi case; expresses strong doubts about survey work; asks ASI official to appear at 4.30 pm

An aerial view of the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi

Prayagraj: The Allahabad High Court resumed hearing a plea against a district court order directing the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to conduct a survey to determine if the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi was built upon a temple.

The hearing that started on Tuesday went into a second day on Wednesday, as decided by Chief Justice Pritinker Diwaker.

The Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee's challenge is against the Varanasi District Judge's July 21 order mandating an ASI Survey of the Gyanvapi Mosque.

During the hearing on Wednesday, High Court today expressed its "strong doubts" regarding the work to be carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) at the Mosque premises, legal news portal Livelaw reported.

The oral observation was made by the bench of Chief Justice after the ASGI (appearing for the ASI) failed to explain to the bench the exact methodology of the proposed survey.

Although the ASGI tried to clarify to the bench that it would be using the Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR) method without causing any damage to the structure as per the Varanasi Court's order, the bench was not convinced.

Consequently, the Chief Justice directed the ASGI to call an ASI official from Varanasi by 4:30 pm today to the Court with an affidavit explaining the structure and details of the proposed survey. The bench is likely to decide the fate of the challenge of the Gyanvapi Mosque committee after 4:30 pm as the Supreme Court's order staying the ASI survey will expire at 5 pm today.

On Tuesday, Anjuman Intezamia Masjid, which manages the mosque, moved the high court, after being allowed to do so by the Supreme Court on Monday. The Muslim side had approached the apex court to halt the ASI survey and give them reprieve to appeal before Allahabad High Court against the lower court's order to conduct a survey. The court then granted the Masjid Committee breathing time for the appeal till 5 pm Wednesday.

The counsel for the committee, senior advocate SFA Naqvi, prayed for early hearing of the case before Chief Justice Diwaker stating that there is an urgency as the apex court's order will expire on Wednesday.

The Chief Justice said he will hear the matter if the parties have no objection. Vishnu Shankar Jain, the counsel for the respondent (Hindu side), submitted that in the Ram Mandir case, a survey was conducted by the ASI and the same was accepted by the high court as well as the Supreme Court.

It may be recalled that the Ram Temple was the only exception made for the 1991 Places of Worship Act which barred any disturbance of the status quo of any place of worship as they existed on 15 August 1947. It is also significant that many have viewed the current litigation move by the Hindu side as a recourse to the legal route to get its wishes fulfilled.

The mosque is located next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi. Four Hindu women litigants had sought the survey to determine whether a temple existed at the same spot earlier.

The Varanasi district court on Friday ordered the ASI to conduct a survey using technologies like ground penetrating radar and excavations, if necessary. And there was no delay on the part of the ASI which started the work on Monday itself.

(Inputs from IANS)

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TAGS:Allahabad High CourtASI SurveyGyanvapi MosqueSC bench suspended surveyHindu women petitionHindu temple existed and was demolished
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