Gyanvapi verdict looms: Hindu, Muslim sides await ASI report details

| Updated: 24 January, 2024 11:15 pm IST

NEW DELHI: A Varanasi district court has ordered that both Hindu and Muslim petitioners in the Gyanvapi case will receive certified copies of an archaeological survey report of the 15th-century mosque complex, potentially marking a significant development in the long-standing dispute.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) surveyed between August 4 and early November last year, following court orders, to influence the ongoing cases where Hindu petitioners assert their worshipping rights inside the mosque complex.

District Judge Ajaya Krishna Vishvesha emphasised the importance of providing both parties with copies of the survey report to enable them to file objections, stating, “Without providing a copy of the survey report to the parties, it will not be possible for them to file objections against it.” The court directed that a copy of the survey report be issued without delay to the district government counsel (civil), Varanasi.

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The court has set February 6 as the date for the next hearing in the matter. Advocate Subhash Nandan Chaturvedi, representing the Hindu women plaintiffs who initiated the petition for worshipping rights, confirmed this and added that they would apply for a certified copy of the ASI survey report on Thursday.

Vishnu Shankar Jain, counsel for the Hindu petitioners, stated that during the hearing, both parties agreed to receive hard copies of the document, as the ASI objected to emailing the report.

“On Thursday, we will apply for receiving a certified copy of the ASI survey report,” said Jain while addressing the media.

SM Yasin, Joint Secretary of the Anjuman Intezamia Masajid Committee, which oversees the mosque, mentioned that they would follow legal procedures to obtain a copy of the Gyanvapi mosque survey report.

“As per legal procedure, we will apply to obtain a copy of the report of the Gyanvapi mosque survey,” said Yasin.

The Gyanvapi dispute, rooted in history, gained momentum in August 2021 when five women filed a petition seeking unhindered worship rights at the Maa Shringar Gauri Sthal inside the complex, housing Hindu idols.

A controversial survey of the complex was ordered in April 2022, resulting in protests. The survey was completed in May, with the Hindu side claiming the discovery of a Shivling in the final hours, contested by the Muslim side, who argued it was a ceremonial ablution fountain.

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The ASI report’s implications extend to other cases linked to the Gyanvapi dispute, where Hindu groups aim to restore an ancient temple at the site of the Gyanvapi Masjid, asserting that the mosque was built by medieval Islamic rulers after demolishing part of the temple.

While the Muslim side argues that Hindu suits violate the 1991 Places of Worship Act, the courts have maintained that these pleas are maintainable and do not violate the said law.

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