Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi Case: Mosque Not A Waqf Property, Asserts Counsel For Temple


Apr 29, 2022, 08:21 AM | Updated 08:21 AM IST

Gyanvapi Mosque (Pic Via Wikipedia)
Gyanvapi Mosque (Pic Via Wikipedia)

Allahabad, (PTI) The Allahabad High Court on Thursday resumed the hearing on Varanasi’s Kashi-Vishwanath Temple-Gyanvapi Mosque dispute with the counsel for the temple asserting that the disputed mosque is not a waqf property.

Appearing for the Kashi Vishwanath temple before the bench of Justice Prakash Padia, senior counsel Vijay Shankar Rastogi also asserted that the provisions of the Waqf Act are not applicable to this mosque as it is not a waqf property.

Rastogi advanced his argument refuting claims by appellants Anjuman Intazamia Masjid of Varanasi and the Sunni Central Waqf Board of Lucknow in their petitions that the mosque was a Waqf Property, a property permanently and irrevocably donated by an eligible, legally constituted ‘Waqif’ (legal donor) for a pious and religious purpose and hence rendered non-transferrable.

Rastogi, however, argued in the court and also explained later to PTI that the Gyanwapi Mosque cannot be said to be a Waqf property because it was not dedicated by any legal Waqif after the demolition of the Kashi Vishwanath temple in 1669.

There was never any dedication of the property to God or to build a masque by any Waqif after its demolition by its destroyer, Rastogi said.

Rastogi also argued that the disputed property was earlier once registered as Waqf Property before the enactment of the Waqf Act, 1995, which provided for the re-registration of the Waqf Property but it was never done.

Moreover, the earlier registration of the disputed property as a Waqf property did not affect Hindu’s rights over it as the Waqf Act only concerned Muslims, he argued.

Accordingly, the disputed property is not a waqf property and the provisions of the Waqf Act do not apply to it, he asserted.

Earlier during the last hearing on April 12, Rastogi had argued that the Kashi Vishwanath temple of Lord Vishweshwar has been in the existence since ancient times and the Lord is situated in the disputed structure.

Despite its demolition, the religious character of the temple never changed, he said, arguing that section 4 of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 is not applicable to the temple because it was an old temple and was built prior to the 15th century.

Rastogi made this argument in response to the reliance of appellants' counsel on section 4 of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 which bars filing of any suit or initiating any other legal proceeding for a conversion of the religious character of any place of worship, as existing on August 15, 1947.

Justice Padia adjourned the matter for further hearing on May 10.

The original suit was filed in 1991 in the Varanasi district court for the restoration of the ancient temple at the site where the Gyanvapi mosque currently stands.

The plea has been taken in the suit that the said mosque is a part of the temple.

Varanasi’s fast track court headed by a civil judge (senior division) had on April 8, 2021 directed the Archaeological Survey of India to conduct a survey of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple-Gyanvapi Mosque complex and ascertain if a temple was demolished to build the mosque that stands adjacent to the temple.

The Allahabad High Court, however, stayed the Varanasi court’s order dated April 8, 2021.

The high court stayed the Varanasi court order on petitions by Anjuman Intazamia Masjid and the Sunni Central Waqf Board.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without any modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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