Allahabad high court reserves verdict on Gyanvapi Mosque survey plea amid controversy
LAKHIMPUR, UP: The Allahabad High Court has kept the decision pending on a plea opposing the Varanasi district court’s directive to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to conduct a survey to ascertain if the Gyanvapi mosque stands on the site of a temple.
The ASI’s survey remains on hold until August 3, the day when the court will announce its judgment on the plea challenging the contentious survey ordered by the district court.
The hearing, presided over by Chief Justice Pritinker Diwaker, resumed as the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid, the organisation managing the Gyanvapi mosque, presented its case.
SFA Naqvi, the counsel for the mosque committee, argued that the issue of the suit’s maintainability, filed by five plaintiffs, is currently sub judice in the Supreme Court. Naqvi stated that the trust or temple authorities are not raising the matter, but individuals from various parts of the country are filing separate suits.
In an attempt to strengthen their argument, Naqvi presented photographs of ASI’s excavation equipment when it reached the mosque premises, insinuating an intention to dig the site.
“We have attached photographs of various digging equipment that ASI had when it reached the mosque premises. It shows that they had intentions of digging the spot,” Naqvi told the court.
The ASI official present in court on Wednesday clarified that their objective was not to “destroy the structure (mosque)” in any manner.
On the Hindu side, Vishnu Shankar Jain, the counsel, referred to the application filed for the ASI survey and highlighted various signs of the Hindu religion on the walls of the present structure. Jain pointed out the existence of Hindu artefacts both inside the mosque and on the western wall beneath the current structure.
Jain argued that Mughal emperor Aurangzeb did not construct new buildings while demolishing the temple, but instead, Muslims constructed a superstructure over the remains of the old temple.
During the morning session on Wednesday, Chief Justice Diwaker requested the Additional Solicitor General of India to arrange for an ASI expert from Varanasi to demonstrate the survey process to the court.
In compliance with the court order, Alok Tripathi, Additional Director of ASI, submitted an affidavit detailing the survey process.
Naqvi contended that on July 21, the Varanasi district court concluded that without a survey report, the issue could not be decided, but it failed to discuss the evidence before reaching such a conclusion.
Furthermore, Naqvi objected that the ASI was not included as a party to the suit, yet it was directed to conduct the survey and provide its opinion on the matter.