Gyanvapi Mosque Dispute Day # 5: Supreme Court Extends Protection To Area Where ‘Shiva Lingam’ was foundGyanvapi Mosque Dispute
On November 11th, 2022, a Bench led by CJI Chandrachud extended its May 17th interim order to protect the area inside the mosque where a ‘Shiva Lingam’ was reportedly found during the survey conducted on the orders of a Varanasi court. The protection has been extended till the Court passes further orders in the case.
Gyanvapi mosque is located in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. It is located in the proximity of Kashi Vishwanath temple.The present dispute arose when a group of Hindu devotees approached a Varanasi Civil Court seeking the right to worship inside the mosque. They stated that the mosque was an erstwhile Hindu temple and still houses Hindu deities
In April 2022, Judge Diwakar appointed a committee to conduct a ‘videographic survey’ of the disputed site and find evidence of the Hindu idols. The Mosque’s Management Committee approached the Supreme Court on May 13th, 2022, challenging the survey. They stated that the survey may disrupt social harmony. They further argued that the Order allowing the survey violates the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act,1991, which protects the character of religious structures as they were on August 15th, 1947.
The Survey Committee’s findings were leaked to the media before its report was filed at the Civil Judge’s Court—and before the SC started hearing the Management Committee’s case. Based on the leak, the five Hindu petitioners told the Civil Judge that a shiv lingam had been found in the wazukhana of the mosque, or the fountain where Muslim devotees perform ritual ablutions before offering namaz. On May 16th, without waiting for the Committee’s report and without hearing the Mosque Management Committee, who claims the alleged structure is a fountain, the Civil Judge ordered that the wazukhana should be sealed. The Judge has also expressed fear for his and his family’s safety.
Hearing the Management Committee’s challenge to the survey Order, Justices Chandrachud and P.S. Narasimha delivered an Interim Order on May 17th, 2022. In this Order, they clarified that the shiv lingam must be protected but without restricting Muslims’ right to worship at the mosque. The order for protection of the area surrounding the Shiva Lingam was granted for a period of eight weeks after the Varanasi District Court decided on the Mosque Management’s application for dismissing the suit.
On September 12th, 2022, the District Court dismissed the Management’s application, the management has now filed a review against this order at the Allahabad High Court. With the eight weeks expiring on November 12th, 2022, Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain asked CJI Chandrachud to list the matter for hearing
Appearing for the Plaintiffs in the suit before the Varanasi District Court, Senior Advocate Ranjit Kumar, argued that the petition before the Supreme Court has become invalid as the Masjid’s representatives have been participating before the Advocate Commissioner.Their petition raised objections with the appointment of the Advocate Commissioner.
Appearing for the Mosque Management, Sr. Adv Huzefa Ahmedi, while not objecting to the extension of the protection, argued that the petition has not become invalid. Mr. Ahmedi asked the court to grant him time to obtain instructions in the regard.
The Bench, upon hearing the parties, passed an order extending the protection to the area inside the mosque where a ‘Shivling’ was reportedly found.