Gyanvapi Mosque Dispute #2: SC Postpones Hearings By A Day

Gyanvapi Mosque Dispute

On May 19th, 2022, a Bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, Surya Kant, and P.S. Narasimha postponed hearings in the Gyanvapi Mosque Dispute. The matter will be next heard in the afternoon of May 20th, 2022. 

Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain, appearing for the Hindu respondents in the case, requested the deferral as Advocate Hari Shankar Jain, who also represents the parties, is unwell. 

The dispute revolves around the allegations that Varanasi’s Gyanvapi mosque was built on top of a portion of the Kashi Vishwanath temple. In 2021, five Hindu women filed a petition before a Varanasi Civil Court seeking permission to pray within the mosque. In April 2022, the Civil Court ordered a ‘videographic survey’ of the mosque to ascertain the presence of Hindu idols within the Gyanvapi mosque’s premises. 

The mosque’s Management Committee has challenged the survey at the Allahabad High Court, and finally at the Supreme Court—where the matter was listed for hearing on May 13th, 2022. The parties argue that the survey violates Section 4 of the Places of Worship (Protection Act), 1991, which states that a place of worship’s character shall be determined as it was on August 15th, 1947. On May 16th, before the survey report was submitted or hearings at the Supreme Court began, a shiv lingam was allegedly found within the mosque’s premises—near the wazukhana or washing area for devotees. The Civil Court ordered the sealing of the area the same day. 

While posing no objection to the deferral of today’s proceedings, Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for Gyanvapi mosque, requested the stay of proceedings in the case at the Varanasi Civil Court. Mr. Ahmadi argued that a petition had been moved in the morning requesting the demolition of a part of the mosque’s wazukhana. Today, the contested survey of the mosque was also submitted before the Civil Court. 

Chandrachud J ordered the Civil Court to desist all proceedings on the case until the Supreme Court hears the matter on May 20th. The previous hearing on May 17th saw the Bench ordering that the alleged shiv lingam within the wazukhana remain protected—without restricting the movement of regular devotees offering namaz at Gyanvapi mosque.