‘Must Have Breathing Time’: The Supreme Court Extends The Order On The Gyanvapi Survey Till July 26, 5 p.m.

The Supreme Court’s three-judge bench ruled that the Varanasi district court’s order to undertake a survey of the Gyanvapi Masjid would not be implemented until July 26, 5 p.m.

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The Supreme Court on Monday postponed the Varanasi district court’s decision for the Archaeological Investigation of India (ASI) to conduct a detailed investigation of the Gyanvapi Masjid to determine if the mosque was built over a pre-existing Hindu temple until 5 p.m. on July 26.

Holding that the mosque management committee needed “some breathing time” to appeal the Friday order, a bench led by Chief Justice of India Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud stayed the district court’s order for a little more than 48 hours, allowing the committee to file an appeal with the Allahabad High Court.

“We permit petitioners to go to the Supreme Court under Article 227 (writ jurisdiction) to appeal the order of the district judge in Varanasi.” Given that the order was issued on July 21, at 4.30 pm, and the ASI survey is being conducted today, we are prepared to give them some leeway. “We decide that the district court order be not enforced until July 26, 5 p.m.,” the bench, which contained justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, added.

If the committee files a petition with the high court, the registrar must guarantee that it is heard before the status quo order expires, according to the bench.

The bench directed Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who represents the Uttar Pradesh government in the matter but was called to assist the bench on Monday morning, to relay the court’s directives to ASI as soon as possible.

Initially, the bench dismissed the committee’s petition while allowing it time to petition the Supreme Court and recording Mehta’s assertions that no excavation or other invasive procedure will be used by ASI in the mosque complex for at least a week.

Read More: Manipur Violence: Two Women Were Gang-raped And Killed In Manipur On The Day Of The Viral Video Case.

The bench eventually stayed the district court order until 5 p.m. on July 26 after the committee, represented by senior advocate Huzefa Ahmedi, argued they had been “ambushed” by the district court’s order, which arrived on Friday evening and ASI surged to the mosque complex on Monday morning.

“What’s the big rush? Since the 1500s, the site has been utilized as a mosque. “Let there be a status quo order,” Ahmedi said, adding that an omnibus survey order cannot be executed because the district court has not even articulated the problems in the litigation now before it.

Senior litigator Shyam Divan represented the four Hindi plaintiffs against whom the survey order was issued. Divan rejected the committee’s appeal, arguing that the supreme court’s status quo ruling is indefinite and that the issue should be decided by the Allahabad high court.

During the hearing, the bench asked Mehta whether he was prepared to make a declaration that ASI will not act till Friday in order for the committee to seek the high court and obtain a hearing. Mehta, on the other hand, stated that he is unable to make such a conclusion, noting that ASI is not doing excavation or any other invasive procedure at the disputed site. Mehta continued by stating that the mosque management committee should be forced to provide all representations before the high court.

The bench, on the other hand, believed that the committee should be allowed some time to get a hearing in the high court against the district court’s Friday ruling. It thus postponed the implementation of the Friday ruling until 5 p.m. on July 26 and requested that a hearing be scheduled before the status quo order expired.

In its Friday order, the district judge held that the scientific investigation is “necessary” for the “true facts” to be revealed, as it allowed an application by the four Hindu women plaintiffs. District judge Ajaya Krishna Vishvesha instructed ASI to conduct a comprehensive survey of the plot where the mosque stands, next to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, using dating, excavation, and ground penetrating radar (GPR) techniques.

The district court, on the other hand, ordered the exclusion of the area that has been sealed since the Supreme Court’s judgment in May 2022. Hindus believe a Shivling has been discovered in the region under seal, while Muslims claim it is part of a fountain.

“The director of ASI has been asked to conduct an in-depth scientific investigation of the current building (mosque) using GPR Survey, dating method, excavation, and other modern techniques to find out whether same has been built over a pre-existing structure of a Hindu temple,” said the district court’s order, which demanded a report from ASI by August 4, when the case will be heard again.

A GPR survey is a means of acquiring data on what’s under the earth using ground-penetrating radar technology that delivers electromagnetic energy signals into the subsurface. Dating is a way of determining the age of very ancient items, whereas dating is a method of estimating the age of very old objects.

The district court ordered ASI to perform a GPR survey beneath the mosque’s three domes (where the plaintiffs claim to find the remains of a temple pinnacle) and beneath the western wall (which houses the Hindu shrine of Shringar Gauri).

“The ASI director is also directed to carry out a GPR survey beneath the ground of all cellars, and, if necessary, excavation.”  “The director of ASI is also directed to conduct a dating exercise of the building’s pillars and plinth to determine the age and nature of construction,” it said.

Allowing ASI to conduct scientific investigations on all artifacts discovered in the mosque to determine their age and nature, the court also directed ASI to study all objects of historical and religious significance found in various parts of the building and beneath the structure that may be discovered during excavation.

“The director of ASI has been ordered to conduct GPR survey, excavation wherever required, dating exercise, and other scientific methods to figure out the age and nature of construction existing at the site in question,” the court said, adding that ASI must ensure that the structure standing on the disputed land is not damaged and remains intact and undamaged.

Raees Ahmad Ansari, one of the mosque management committee’s lawyers, stated that the ruling will be challenged in a higher court.

The ruling was issued in response to two applications submitted by four of the five Hindu plaintiffs who filed a complaint in August 2021, claiming the right to unrestricted worship at the Maa Shringar Gauri Sthal, which is located inside the compound that contains Hindu deity images. The survey application was submitted by Rekha Pathak, Manju Vyas, Sita Sahu, and Lakshmi Devi. Advocates Hari Shankar Jain, Vishnu Jain, Sudhir Tripathi, and Subhash Nandan Chaturvedi defended their cases.

In their response, the mosque management committee denied that the mosque was erected atop a temple, claiming that the edifice at the site was always a mosque. The management committee, represented by attorneys Ansari and Ekhlaq Ahmad, objected to the survey, claiming that such an exercise could not be ordered to gather evidence. It was also asserted that a survey by an advocate commissioner was previously performed in April 2022 and that no fresh poll could be authorized until the legitimacy of that survey was determined.

However, the district judge dismissed the mosque management committee’s objections, noting that the April 2022 spot inspection is not the same as a scientific survey conducted by ASI, which has all of the modern techniques and resources to determine the age and nature of construction at the disputed site.

“In my opinion, directing ASI to conduct a survey and scientific investigation at the property in question and submit a report will aid in the just and proper disposition of the case and bring true facts before this court.” “I also believe that the objections filed by defendant no.4 (the mosque management committee) are unfounded and devoid of substance,” the district court said.

The mosque management committee had previously sought dismissal of the lawsuit under Order VII Rule 11 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC), claiming that the Hindu plaintiffs’ complaint was precluded under the 1991 Places of Worship Act. The Act secures any house of worship’s standing or “religious identity” as it stood on August 15, 1947.

According to Advocate Rajesh Mishra, the state government’s special counsel in the Gyanvapi issue, “the Varanasi district court granted the application for survey in the Gyanvapi Complex’s barricaded area, excluding its barricaded area, by ASI.”

The district judge is presently hearing eight lawsuits alleging the presence of Hindu deity statues within the Gyanvapi mosque, which is located close to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. The first, filed by the five Hindu women, sought the right to worship Hindu deities within the mosque compound, while six others sought ownership to the property on which the Gyanvapi Masjid lies.

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