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Gyanvapi case: Two more advocate commissioners added to Shringar Gauri survey team

Videographic survey to be completed by May 17; Advocate Commissioner Ajai Kumar not replaced

Sabrangindia 12 May 2022

Gyanvapi

A Varanasi Court has appointed two new advocates to the team deputed to conduct a videographic survey of the Maa Shringar Gauri temple located on the premises of the Gyanvapi mosque that was built adjacent to the Kashi Vishwanath temple. The court refused to stay the videographic survey and ordered that the survey be completed and a report be submitted by May 17. The court has also not replaced Ajai Kumar, the Advocate Commissioner presiding over the survey.

According to the Indian Express, the two new advocate commissioners appointed are Ajay Singh and Vishal Singh. Therefore, though the court did not give in to the mosque authority’s demand to replace the original Advocate Commissioner, the addition of two more commissioners appears to be a move to placate concerns about the alleged biases of one man.

The court has also ordered the Director General of Police (DGP) and police authorities to monitor the survey activities to ensure there are no delays. The District administration has also been empowered to file FIRs against people who try to prevent the survey team from doing their job. The survey will be conducted between 8 A.M and 12 noon everyday till the survey is concluded. The report must be submitted by May 17.

The Gyanvapi mosque has been in the eye of the storm as it was built after Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb razed a portion of the Kashi Vishwanath temple, many claim that the mosque was built using the temple’s debris. Hardline Hindutva groups, feeling particularly empowered in wake of the Ayodhya dispute verdict, have been demanding that the mosque land be given back to the temple authorities. A slew of petitions has been filed over the last two years.

One such petition was filed in August 2021, five women, one of whom has since withdrawn her name from the case. They had moved the Civil Court (Senior Division), demanding that the Maa Shringar Gauri Temple be reopened, and people be allowed to offer prayers before the idols that are still kept there. The petitioners cited the right to practice one’s faith and religious freedom guaranteed by Article 25 of the Constitution.

On April 8, 2022, Civil Judge (Senior Division), Varanasi, Ravi Kumar Diwakar had appointed Advocate Commissioner Ajai Kumar to carry out the survey and asked him to submit a report at the next hearing on May 10. It is noteworthy that this is distinct from the survey by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI), as that was stayed by the Allahabad High Court. The authorities began conducting the video survey on May 5.

But the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid (AIM), which is the mosque management authority, opposed this and moved court. However, their petition against the survey was dismissed by the Allahabad High Court on April 21. The lower court in Varanasi, on April 26, then again passed an order to carry out the survey, though now it appears that there was some ambiguity about where the survey could be conducted, specifically if it could be conducted inside the temple that is located on mosque land that is a Wakf property. The mosque authorities raised concerns as they claim this violates the principle of non-retrogression under the Places of Worship Act. But the petitioners say the same law would be applicable if it is discovered that there was originally a temple on the mosque and therefore the survey is important.

The AIM opposed videography inside the mosque and also alleged that Advocate Commissioner Ajai Kumar was “biased”. They moved court again on May 7. Hearings were held on Tuesday and Wednesday where both parties made submissions, and the court reserved its order that was expected to be delivered today at noon. But the order was delayed, and in the meantime, there was heavy security deployment, purportedly fearing an outbreak of communal violence.  

But after 2:30 P.M, different news channels and publications who had accessed the order copy began reporting that the survey was not stayed. Shortly afterwards, Advocate Madan Mohan Yadav, who represents some of the women petitioners, stepped out and spoke to waiting media persons. He told NDTV, “Two more lawyers have been appointed as commissioners to accompany Court commissioner Ajay Mishra for the survey. The Commission has to submit its report by May 17 before the court.”

A copy of the order (in Hindi) has been shared by the publication and according to this order copy, the court has ordered, “The survey will be conducted in Gyanvapi mosque and the entire barricaded area. Authorities will photograph and videograph the area. District authorities are ordered to open/break the lock of the basement and allow videography there as well.”

The order may be read here:

jpg

 

 

 

Related:

Gyanvapi case: Court to pronounce order in Shringar Gauri temple survey matter today

Gyanvapi case: One out of five withdrawing name from Maa Shringar Gauri temple petition?

Gyanvapi case: Videographic survey of Maa Shringar Gauri temple begins

Gyanvapi case: Allahabad HC stays ASI survey, proceedings before lower court

Gyanvapi case: Varanasi court to hear petition to hold prayers in Shringar Gauri temple

Gyanvapi case: Two more advocate commissioners added to Shringar Gauri survey team

Videographic survey to be completed by May 17; Advocate Commissioner Ajai Kumar not replaced

Gyanvapi

A Varanasi Court has appointed two new advocates to the team deputed to conduct a videographic survey of the Maa Shringar Gauri temple located on the premises of the Gyanvapi mosque that was built adjacent to the Kashi Vishwanath temple. The court refused to stay the videographic survey and ordered that the survey be completed and a report be submitted by May 17. The court has also not replaced Ajai Kumar, the Advocate Commissioner presiding over the survey.

According to the Indian Express, the two new advocate commissioners appointed are Ajay Singh and Vishal Singh. Therefore, though the court did not give in to the mosque authority’s demand to replace the original Advocate Commissioner, the addition of two more commissioners appears to be a move to placate concerns about the alleged biases of one man.

The court has also ordered the Director General of Police (DGP) and police authorities to monitor the survey activities to ensure there are no delays. The District administration has also been empowered to file FIRs against people who try to prevent the survey team from doing their job. The survey will be conducted between 8 A.M and 12 noon everyday till the survey is concluded. The report must be submitted by May 17.

The Gyanvapi mosque has been in the eye of the storm as it was built after Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb razed a portion of the Kashi Vishwanath temple, many claim that the mosque was built using the temple’s debris. Hardline Hindutva groups, feeling particularly empowered in wake of the Ayodhya dispute verdict, have been demanding that the mosque land be given back to the temple authorities. A slew of petitions has been filed over the last two years.

One such petition was filed in August 2021, five women, one of whom has since withdrawn her name from the case. They had moved the Civil Court (Senior Division), demanding that the Maa Shringar Gauri Temple be reopened, and people be allowed to offer prayers before the idols that are still kept there. The petitioners cited the right to practice one’s faith and religious freedom guaranteed by Article 25 of the Constitution.

On April 8, 2022, Civil Judge (Senior Division), Varanasi, Ravi Kumar Diwakar had appointed Advocate Commissioner Ajai Kumar to carry out the survey and asked him to submit a report at the next hearing on May 10. It is noteworthy that this is distinct from the survey by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI), as that was stayed by the Allahabad High Court. The authorities began conducting the video survey on May 5.

But the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid (AIM), which is the mosque management authority, opposed this and moved court. However, their petition against the survey was dismissed by the Allahabad High Court on April 21. The lower court in Varanasi, on April 26, then again passed an order to carry out the survey, though now it appears that there was some ambiguity about where the survey could be conducted, specifically if it could be conducted inside the temple that is located on mosque land that is a Wakf property. The mosque authorities raised concerns as they claim this violates the principle of non-retrogression under the Places of Worship Act. But the petitioners say the same law would be applicable if it is discovered that there was originally a temple on the mosque and therefore the survey is important.

The AIM opposed videography inside the mosque and also alleged that Advocate Commissioner Ajai Kumar was “biased”. They moved court again on May 7. Hearings were held on Tuesday and Wednesday where both parties made submissions, and the court reserved its order that was expected to be delivered today at noon. But the order was delayed, and in the meantime, there was heavy security deployment, purportedly fearing an outbreak of communal violence.  

But after 2:30 P.M, different news channels and publications who had accessed the order copy began reporting that the survey was not stayed. Shortly afterwards, Advocate Madan Mohan Yadav, who represents some of the women petitioners, stepped out and spoke to waiting media persons. He told NDTV, “Two more lawyers have been appointed as commissioners to accompany Court commissioner Ajay Mishra for the survey. The Commission has to submit its report by May 17 before the court.”

A copy of the order (in Hindi) has been shared by the publication and according to this order copy, the court has ordered, “The survey will be conducted in Gyanvapi mosque and the entire barricaded area. Authorities will photograph and videograph the area. District authorities are ordered to open/break the lock of the basement and allow videography there as well.”

The order may be read here:

jpg

 

 

 

Related:

Gyanvapi case: Court to pronounce order in Shringar Gauri temple survey matter today

Gyanvapi case: One out of five withdrawing name from Maa Shringar Gauri temple petition?

Gyanvapi case: Videographic survey of Maa Shringar Gauri temple begins

Gyanvapi case: Allahabad HC stays ASI survey, proceedings before lower court

Gyanvapi case: Varanasi court to hear petition to hold prayers in Shringar Gauri temple

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