Gyanvapi case: Plea moved before SC challenging Allahabad HC’s order dismissing PIL to verify “Shivling” claims

Allahabad HC had dismissed a plea to appoint a commission headed by a judge to determine nature of structure found in the Gyanvapi mosque’s ablution tank


In latest developments in the Gyanvapi case, a plea has been filed before the Supreme Court challenging an order by the Allahabad High Court that had dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) demanding that a commission be set up under a serving or retired Supreme Court or High Court judge to examine the structure found in the Gyanvapi mosque’s Wazu Khana (ablution tank) to determine if it is indeed a “Shivling”, or just a defunct fountain.

In July this year, a Bench of Justices Rajesh Singh Chauhan and Subhash Vidyarthi had dismissed the plea moved by seven people. The petitioners included five residents of Varanasi, namely Sarve Shri Sudhir Singh, Baba Balak Das, Shivendra Pratap Singh, Markande Tiwari, and Rajan Rai, as well as two lawyers practicing at the High Court’s Lucknow bench, namely Ravi Mishra and Atul Kumar. They had moved HC through Advocate Ashok Pande. According to LiveLaw, while dismissing the plea the HC had observed that the petition had been filed merely to gain publicity, and the court nipped the attempt in the bud by dismissing it at the admission stage itself. The HC had also observed that the plea was not maintainable as the Court in Lucknow did not have jurisdiction because Varanasi was not in the Oudh region.    

Now, the seven petitioners have moved SC through Advocate Satyajeet Kumar against the HC order. According to LiveLaw, they have not only submitted that the HC had erred in dismissing the plea on merits, but also that the pendency of civil suits regarding subject matter of the case cannot be grounds for dismissal of the PIL. They have also questioned the propriety of the Bench itself calling it “a bench of two unequal judges” as one of the judges was appointed under Article 217 of the Constitution, and another was an Additional Judge appointed under Article 224 of the Constitution.

Pending suits

Readers would recall that a case to determine the maintainability of the suit itself is pending before the court of Varanasi district judge Ajay Krishna Vishvesha, is hearing arguments pertaining to Order 7 Rule 11 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC). Due to the sudden death of Advocate Abhay Nath Yadav, who was representing the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid (AIM), which is the committee that manages the Gyanvapi mosque, proceedings in the case have been adjourned to August 18.

Meanwhile, the Allahabad HC is also hearing the AIM and Sunni Central Waqf Board’s plea to stay the proceedings before a lower court in Varanasi. They had argued that the lower court should not be allowed to conduct proceedings, given how judgment in the title suit pertaining to the Kashi Vishwanath temple and the Gyanvapi mosque dispute has been reserved by the Allahabad High Court in March 2021. Moreover, they argued that as per the Places of Worship Act, the character of a place of worship cannot be changed from what it was on Indian Independence Day i.e August 15, 1947.

During the hearing on August 3, the petitioners i.e AIM and the Waqf Board, also argued that the land is Waqf land and therefore a civil dispute cannot be made part of a civil dispute. Meanwhile, according to the Nav Bharat Times the Hindu parties argued that the land was never Waqf land and was part of the Kashi Vishwanath temple, a portion of which was razed to build the mosque. They say the land therefore remains eternally vested in the deity, and therefore cannot be called Waqf land.  

The Allahabad High Court has now adjourned that case to August 17.

Readers would recall that the title suit in the case was filed as far back as in 1991. On March 15, 2021, judge Prakash Padia of the Allahabad High Court had reserved his judgment in the case. It is the same judge who is now hearing a plea for a stay on proceedings before the lower court.

The above proceedings are distinct from the petition for banning entry of Muslim devotees to the Gyanvapi mosque and conducting prayers as per Hindu tradition, a matter that is being heard by a fast-track court in Varanasi. The court had permitted the petitioners to make some corrections to their petition during the last hearing.

Case in the Supreme Court

On July 21, the Supreme Court announced that it has decided to wait for the Varanasi district court’s decision pertaining specifically to the maintainability of the case under Order 7, Rule 11 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC). The court, accordingly, adjourned the matter till the first week of October.

The bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant and PS Narasimha was hearing a petition by the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid (AIM) which is the mosque management authority of the Gyanvapi mosque, challenging the lower courts order to conduct a survey of the mosque.


Gyanvapi case: Arguments continue in Allahabad HC

Gyanvapi case: SC to wait for Varanasi district court’s decision on suit maintainability

Gyanvapi case: Fast-track court permits corrections to petition

Gyanvapi case: Allahabad HC resumes hearing plea against proceedings in lower court

Gyanvapi case: Hindu petitioners submit that the mosque stands on land owned by Hindu deity



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