Tribune press service
New Delhi, May 17
The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the protection of the area where a ‘Shivling’ was allegedly found at the Gyanvapi Shringar Gauri complex in Varanasi, although it clarified that there would be no restrictions on Muslims offering namaz or other religious observances there.
The bench – which also included Judge PS Narasimha – made it clear that the trial judge’s order that only 20 people will offer namaz at the disputed compound will not work now.
He sent a notice to the Hindu side and released the case for a rehearing on May 19 after being informed that lawyer Hari Shankar Jain, who represented the Hindu side, had been admitted to a hospital in Varanasi.
The order came from a bench headed by Judge DY Chandrachud on a petition filed by the “Management Committee of Anjuman Intezamia Masajid” challenging the Allahabad High Court’s order authorizing a commissioner appointed by the local court to inspect, investigate and film the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri Complex.
On behalf of the State of Uttar Pradesh, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta has urged the High Court to pass any material orders only after obtaining a factual report to avoid any unintended consequences.
On behalf of the “Management Committee of Anjuman Intezamia Masajid”, lead attorney Huzefa Ahmadi said the mosque was covered by the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991. He said the trial court’s order complied with the law.
Article 3 of the law makes it clear that this cannot be done… Orders from the outset, including one taking notice of the pursuit and the pursuit and subsequent orders, are illegal,” Ahmadi argued.
Section 4 of the law prohibits the filing of any lawsuit or the initiation of any other legal proceedings for a conversion of the religious character of any place of worship, as it existed on August 15, 1947.
After a court-mandated videography of the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri complex discovered a ‘Shivling’ inside its premises, Varanasi Civil Judge (Main Division) Ravi Kumar Diwakar on Monday ordered the place to be sealed . Diwakar had ordered the Varanasi District Magistrate to seal off the area where the Shivling was found to ensure no one entered the premises. He had ordered the District Magistrate, Commissioner of Police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to ensure the sealed area remained safe and secure.
On Thursday, the Varanasi court had asked the commissioner to submit the investigation report by May 17.
However, on Tuesday he gave the investigation team two more days to submit its final report. He also sacked Inquiry Commissioner Ajay Mishra over allegations of investigative reports leaked to the media by one of his close associates. However, two other poll commissioners will continue their work.
The civil court order followed a complaint by Hindus who claimed that the mosque housed Hindu deities and that they should be allowed to perform puja at the site. Acting on the request of a group of women seeking permission to worship daily Hindu deities located on an exterior wall of the mosque, Civil Judge Diwakar had ordered an investigation into the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri complex.
The Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri complex, Varanasi, has been a bone of contention between Hindus and Muslims over the right to worship there. The controversy surrounding the investigation into the complex had reached the Supreme Court on Friday, which had refused to pass any order to stop it.