The Allahabad High Court reserved its judgment on a plea filed by the Gyanvapi mosque committee against the Varanasi district court's order for a survey on Thursday (27 July).
The court announced that it will deliver its verdict on 3 August. As a result, the stay on the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)-led survey has been extended until the judgment is pronounced.
The order was passed by a bench led by Chief Justice Prithinker Diwaker.
This development comes after the Supreme Court had halted the ASI-led survey of the Gyanvapi mosque premises in Varanasi, providing time for a challenge. The Anjuman Intezamia Masajid Committee had taken the matter to the High Court, which was hearing the case.
In this matter, Anjuman Committee argued before the Allahabad High Court that the ASI was never a party to the suit and despite the same the Varanasi Court directed it to survey the Mosque premises. They argued that if a scientific survey is done in the way Hindu Women have argued, the entire Mosque premises would be destroyed.
While the Assistant Solicitor General of India contended that Ground Penetrating Radar method would be used by the ASI without causing any damage to the structure following the Varanasi Court’s order. However, the bench was not convinced with respect to the working procedure, and thereby the bench called for an affidavit from an ASI Official explaining the structure and details of the proposed survey.
Subsequently, an affidavit was filed by the ASI Official stating that survey work would be carried out without causing any damage to the structure, and added that a team from IIT Kanpur will be called for a radar survey and GPR survey.
Earlier, District and Sessions Judge Dr Ajaya Krishna Vishvesha had allowed an application by four Hindu women petitioners and directed the ASI to conduct a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey just below the three domes of the mosque.
The order allowed for excavation if necessary. However, the survey was supposed to exclude the wuzukhana area, which had been sealed last year on the orders of the Supreme Court after Hindu litigants claimed the presence of a Shivling there. On the other hand, Muslim litigants argue that the object is a fountain.
The district court's order was contested in the Supreme Court on 24 July, and Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud's bench put the order on hold until 26 July to permit the mosque committee to approach the High Court against the district court's ruling.
The Supreme Court's bench directed that the petitioners be allowed to move the High Court to challenge the district court's order. Considering that the district court's order was issued on 21 July and the survey was underway, the petitioners were granted time until 5 pm on 26 July to seek appropriate relief in the High Court. Until then, the district court's order would not be enforced.
Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.
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