Krishna Janmabhoomi case: Allahabad HC stays case seeking removal of Shahi Idgah

Respondents issued notice and given eight weeks to file counter affidavits, and petitioners four weeks after that to file rejoinders

Krishna Janmabhoomi

In a significant development in the Krishna Janmabhoomi – Shahi Idgah mosque dispute, the Allahabad High Court has now stayed proceedings in a suit filed before a Mathura court that had sought removal of the Idgah.

A single-judge bench of Justice SK Rai passed the order after hearing a petition by the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board challenging the May 19, 2022, order passed by the court of Mathura District and Sessions Judge Rajeev Bharati which had restored the suit against the Idgah, that had been previously dismissed by a lower court.

The petitioners argued that the District Judge did not have the pecuniary jurisdiction to hear the revision as the value of the revision was more that RS 25,00,000/- (Rs 25 lakhs only).

The directed that notice be issued to the respondents in the case, giving them the opportunity to file counter affidavits within eight weeks, and subsequently the petitioners are to file their rejoinders in four weeks after that. The court directed that until then, further proceedings in the trial in the case (Misc. Case No. 176 OF 2020) before the shall remain stayed.

The order may be read here: 


Brief Background of the case

The original civil suit was filed in September 2020, and the petitioners i.e the deity Baghwan Sri Krishna Virajman through next friend Ranjana Agnihotri, Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi (birthplace of the deity) and devotees, submitted, “This suit is being filed for removal of encroachment and superstructure illegally raised by Committee of Management of alleged Trust Masjid Idgah with the consent of Sunni Central Board of Waqf on land Khewat No.255 (Two Hundred Fifty Five) at Katra Keshav Dev city Mathura belonging to deity Shree Krishna Virajman.”  

Explaining the rationale behind the suit, the plaintiffs said, “The present suit is being filed by and on behalf of deity Plaintiff Nos.1 (One) and 2 (Two) alongwith devotees to ensure that Dharshan, Pooja, rituals according to Vedic Sanatan Dharma, faith, belief, usages, traditions and customs guaranteed under Article 25 (Twenty Five) of the Constitution of India are performed at the actual birth place and at any part of 13.37 (Thirteen Point Thirty Seven) Acers land of Katra Keshav Dev the Sunni Waqf Board, Trust Masjid Idgah and their men, workers, attorneys and every person working under them are restrained from entering into the premises of the property in question and they be directed to remove the construction illegally raised by them without authority of law at the property in question.”

The primary contention was that the Krishna Janmasthan Seva Sangh that looked after the Katra Keshav Dev temple property had allegedly entered into an illegal compromise with the Committee of Management of Trust Masjid Idgah in 1968 by way of which a huge chunk of land was given to the Idgah including the spot where the deity was born. The plaintiffs had submitted, “The original karagar i.e birthplace of Lord Krishna lies beneath the construction raised by Committee of Management i.e Trust Masjid Idgah.” It insisted that the truth would be revealed if an excavation were to be conducted.

On September 30, 2020, a civil court in Mathura dismissed the petition to remove the Shahi Idgah adjacent to a Krishna temple in the city. Civil Judge (Senior Division) Chhaya Sharma refused to entertain the plea citing section 4 of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991. Section 4 (1) of this Act says, “It is hereby declared that the religious character of a place of worship existing on the 15th day of August, 1947 shall continue to be the same as it existed on that day.”

However, the plaintiffs moved the district court against this on October 12 citing Article 25 of the Constitution that deals with “Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion” and says, “Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion.”

The Appellants submitted, “It is the right and duty of worshipers to make every endeavour to bring back the lost property of the deity and to take every step for the safety and proper management of the temple and the deity’s property.”

The Petitioners have sought ownership of the entire property spread across 13.37 acres, and cancellation of the agreement that led to the transfer of land in 1968.

Meanwhile, the Sunni Waqf Board and the Shahi Idgah committee argued that the petitioner was neither an office bearer of the Temple trust, nor a descendent of the Krishna Janmasthan.

On May 7, 2022, after hearing both parties, the court of Mathura District and Sessions Judge Rajeev Bharati had reserved its order. On May 19, 2022, the court delivered its order to restore the petition.

Developments in the lower court

The court of civil judge (senior division) was to conduct day-to-day hearings in the case and decide first if the suit against the Idgah was maintainable in the first place. It was to subsequently decide on a petition moved before the HC by one Manish Yadav, who claims to be a descendant of the deity, and who demanded a scientific investigation of the Shahi Idgah and the Jahanara Mosque.

Readers would recall that on July 18, the Allahabad High Court had disposed of Yadav’s petition and directed Mathura court to decide on the plea, preferably within three months. However, the respondent in that matter i.e the Waqf Board, had also moved another application before the same lower court on July 16, 2022, under Order 7 Rule 11 of the Civil Procedure Code. According to Order 7 Rule 11, no petition can be entertained against the matter that is already protected by an existing law. In this case, the Waqf Board contends that the Shahi Idgah falls under the purview of the Places of Worship Act that disallows changing the character of a place of worship from what it was in 1947.

Therefore, the lower court first decided to hear the matter pertaining to the maintainability of the suit itself first. Now proceedings in that matter are stayed.


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And so it begins: Civil suit filed to remove Idgah next to Krishna temple in Mathura




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