A district court in Varanasi has fixed Thursday, 26 May, as the date for hearing the Order 7 Rule 11 application by Muslim side to decide if civil suit by Hindus seeking worship rights inside Gyanvapi mosque is maintainable or not.
The court on Tuesday also called for objections to the report filed by the advocate commissioner previously appointed by a civil judge to carry out survey of the mosque premises. These objections are to be filed within seven days.
The Supreme Court had asked the Varanasi court on Friday to decide if the survey conducted inside the mosque and the petition that allowed it, were maintainable.
Following the apex court’s direction to transfer the Gyanvapi mosque-related proceedings from the civil judge to a 'senior and experienced' district judge, Dr AK Vishvesha, district and sessions Judge of Varanasi, began hearing the matter on Monday.
Dr Vishvesha, on the top court’s instructions, is slated to decide the application filed by the mosque committee under Order 7 Rule 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure, arguing the suit by Hindu devotees is barred by the Places of Worship Act on priority.
According to Bar and Bench, the purpose of Monday's hearing was to chart out the way ahead and decipher how the hearings in this case would be conducted. Only the parties involved in the case and their counsel were allowed entry in the courtroom on Monday.
Hindu Sena Seeks To Be Made Party in Ongoing Dispute
Meanwhile, the Hindu Sena on 24 May, filed an application in the Varanasi district court to be made party in an ongoing Gyanvapi premises dispute. In addition, they have also appealed for a total handover of Gyanvapi site to Hindus for worship purposes.
“Since Kashi has always been known as 'Mahadev ki nagari,' our demand is that the mosque must be shifted to another location amicably and the Gyanvapi premises must be solely dedicated to the Shiv Pariwar,” Vishnu Gupta, national president of Hindu Sena, said in a press release.
The group went on to “appeal to all our Indian Muslim brothers and sisters to take one step forward in maintaining peace and harmony of Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb and not get provoked by Muslim votebank Politicians.”
Five Hindu women have sought round-the-year access to pray at “a shrine behind the western wall of the mosque complex.” The site is currently made open for Hindu prayers once a year.
A Varanasi court had in April ordered a video inspection of the site, but the survey could not take place as the mosque committee opposed videography inside the mosque, accusing Advocate Commissioner Ajay Kumar Mishra of bias.
The local court, however, on 12 May, ordered that the survey work would continue, and instead of replacing Mishra, appointed two more lawyers – Vishal Kumar Singh and Ajay Singh – to accompany him.
The Allahabad High Court refused to stay this order despite it being argued by the mosque committee that the mosque was protected by the Places of Worship Act 1991, resulting in the pleas at the Supreme Court.
On 16 May, the Varanasi court ordered the sealing of part of the mosque on the basis that a shivling had been found in the premises. This order was also challenged by the mosque committee subsequently.
The Supreme Court then issued notice on pleas challenging the orders of the district court and passed an interim order that while the area within the mosque where a shivling was allegedly found should be protected, Muslims must not be restricted from entering and praying in the mosque.
Following this interim order, the Hindu plaintiffs, through their advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain, filed an application in the Varanasi court and sought the razing of the wall and the removal of the resulting debris, in order for a further survey of the area where the alleged shivling was found.
The report submitted by the Varanasi court-appointed commissioners was released by the Hindu devotees' lawyers on 19 May, the findings of which can be found here.
(With inputs from Bar and Bench and LiveLaw.)