Prayagraj (UP): The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday rejected all petitions from the Muslim side, challenging the Hindus’ plea to worship at the Gyanvapi mosque.
The petitions were filed by the Sunni Central Waqf Board and Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee regarding the ownership between the Gyanvapi Mosque and Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi.
The High Court rejected two petitions against the maintainability of a 1991 civil suit filed by Hindu worshippers and pending before a Varanasi District Court, and three against a 2021 Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) survey order.
The single-judge bench of Justice Rohit Ranjan Aggarwal also asked the lower court to complete the hearing on the matter within six months.
The High Court further said that if anything is left while conducting the survey, it can be done again, and that report could be submitted to the Varanasi District Court.
The Muslim side had challenged the civil suit that sought the right to worship and also the Varanasi District Court’s 2021 order of an ASI survey in the mosque complex. They had argued that the civil suit was barred under the 1991 Places of Worship Act.
The Hindu side, meanwhile, said in their civil suit that the Gyanvapi mosque is a part of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
During the hearing on Tuesday, the High Court said that the 1991 civil suit is maintainable and not barred by the 1991 Act, which prohibits the conversion of any place of worship and maintains the religious character of the site as it existed at the time of independence.
Justice Aggarwal had, on December 8, reserved the verdict after hearing arguments by the advocates of both petitioners and the respondent.
The verdict came a day after the ASI submitted its scientific survey report on the mosque complex before the Varanasi District Court in a sealed cover, which will be shared with the petitioners on December 21 and a copy of it will also be sent to the Supreme Court.
The ASI was carrying out the survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex to determine whether the 17th-century mosque was constructed over a pre-existing structure of a Hindu temple.
It began after the Allahabad High Court upheld the Varanasi District Court’s order and ruled that the step was “necessary in the interest of justice” and would be beneficial for both the Hindu and Muslim sides in the land dispute.