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First Verdict to be Announced by Court in Gyanvapi Mosque Case

Court to give its first verdict on Gyanvapi Mosque case
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The Varanasi district court is all set to announce a verdict on Monday on whether a case filed by five Hindu women seeking the right to worship at Shringar Gauri and other deities in the Gyanvapi mosque compound, located next to the famous Kashi Vishwanath temple, is “maintainable” or not. District Judge AK Vishvesh had last month reserved the order till September 12 in the communally sensitive matter.  

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The court heard the petition filed by five women of the Hindu community, who seek the court’s grant to worship the Shringar Gauri Sthal within the Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi Masjid complex. The petition was filed after a structure, resembling a Shivling, was allegedly discovered on the premises of the mosque.

However, the mosque committee rebutted claims by Hindu petitioners and contested that the structure was a fountain and not Shivling.

The Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee has said the Gyanvapi mosque is a Waqf property and has questioned the maintainability of the plea. They argued that only the Waqf Board had the right to hear any matter that pertains to the mosque.

Madan Mohan Yadav, a lawyer of the Hindu side, had said that the mosque was constructed after demolishing the temple. The Hindu side had claimed in the lower court that a Shivling was found during the videography survey of the Gyanvapi mosque-Shringar Gauri complex but it was contested by the Muslim side.

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The Muslim side has questioned the maintainability of the petition and on Monday sought time to present its reply. The court granted it permission and posted the matter for next hearing on September 13.

The case is being heard by the district court following an apex court order. Earlier, a lower court had ordered a videography survey of the complex. The survey work was completed on May 16 and the report was presented in the court on May 19. Following the directive of the Supreme Court to decide the maintainability of the case 693/2021 on priority, the district judge had started the hearings on May 20.

During previous hearings, Abhay Nath Yadav, appearing for the Mosque committee, questioned the maintainability of the suit and had argued about 39 of the 52 points mentioned in the Hindu petitioners’ plea. While Vishnu Jain, an advocate arguing for the female plaintiffs, said that once the merits of the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri case were heard, they will proceed to present the report by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) into the trial. 

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During a hearing on the case on July 4, advocate Jain said, “Those who are referring to the [Places of Worship] Act 1991 should know that if a Shivling is found there which is years old, then the Act is not applicable. We will present this matter in court.”

However, in an exclusive conversation with the media, the lawyers of the petitioners said, “We have already countered (arguments of mosque committee) as the documents produced by the Masjid side do not pertain to the Gyanvapi Mosque. It pertains to Alamgiri Mosque. That is a separate mosque altogether. They have tried to show the registration documents of the two mosques together. This registration is not for Gyanvapi Mosque and I want to say for the sake of clarity. And for that, we have made our written submissions and filed documents. There is no document with the Ministry of Minority Affairs that the Mosque is a Waqf (Board) property. Just to get the provisions of the Waqf, a completely misplaced argument has been placed. If the judgement is against the Hindu petitioners, then they will appeal to Allahabad High Court and to the Supreme Court”.

In July, the Supreme Court said it would wait for the Varanasi district court’s decision on the mosque committee’s application, raising objections to the maintainability of the civil suit filed by Hindu devotees, before intervening in the matter. A bench comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud, Surya Kant and PS Narasimha had adjourned the matter to October 20. The bench said all issues would have to be first argued before the district court.

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Ahead of the verdict, prohibitory orders were clamped under Section 144 in Varanasi to avoid any kind of violent situation and maintain law and order in the city. Police Commissioner A. Satish Ganesh said on Sunday that prohibitory orders have been issued in the Varanasi commissionerate and officers have been asked to interact with religious leaders in their respective areas to ensure that peace is maintained.

He said to maintain the law and order, the entire city has been divided into sectors which have been allocated police force as per the requirement. Directives for flag march and foot march in sensitive areas have also been issued. He added, the checking has been intensified in the district border areas, hotels, guest houses, while an eye has also been kept on social media.

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