Gyanvapi-Kashi Vishwanath case: Supreme Court stays ASI survey till July 26, asks Muslim party to move High Court

In order to allow breathing time to the Muslim party to move. Allahabad High Court, the apex court directed that the district court ordered will not be enforced till July 26.

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered status quo till Wednesday on the scientific survey of the Gyanvapi mosque premises being carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) following an order of a Varanasi court passed last week. [Committee of Management of Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Varanasi v. Smt Rakhi Singh].

A bench by Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud noted that the order allowing the survey was passed at 4:30 pm on Friday.

Accordingly, to allow breathing time to Muslim party to move Allahabad High Court, the Court directed that the district court order will not be enforced till July 26.

The Court also directed the Registrar (Judicial) of the High Court to ensure that once the Muslim party moves the High Court, the matter is placed before the roster in order to be heard by the High Court before the status quo order ends.

“We permit petitioners to move High Court under article 227 challenging order of District judge Varanasi. Having regard to fact that order was passed on July 21, 4:30 pm and ASI survey is being carried out today. To permit them some breathing time, we direct that the district court order SHALL NOT BE ENFORCED till July 26, 2023, 5 PM. Should petitioner move the High Court, the Registrar Judicial shall ensure it is placed before a roaster so that it is heard before status quo order ends,” the Court said.

The Court initially proposed to list the matter on July 28, with directions to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to not carry out invasive work during the survey.

However, after Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi appearing for Muslim party, informed the Court that the ASI had already started digging at the western wall of the mosque, the Court chose to hear the matter today itself.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta claimed that the walls not broken and that only measurement and photography were being carried out. He affirmed that no structural changes would be made to the premises.

However, Ahmadi questioned the ‘tearing hurry’ of the ASI in conducting the survey and pressed for a stay on the order.

On October 14 last year, the district court passed an order rejecting a plea for scientific investigation to ascertain whether the object was a shivling or a fountain.

The Allahabad High Court on May 12 had held that a scientific investigation can be done to ascertain whether the object found during the survey of the Gyanvapi Mosque premise was a Shiv Linga or a fountain, without damaging the object.

Days later, the Supreme Court temporarily deferred the High Court’s direction while seeking the responses of the Central and Uttar Pradesh governments to the appeal filed by a Muslim party challenging such a direction. This matter is presently pending before the top court.

However, the court at Varanasi on July 21 instructed the ASI director to conduct the scientific survey of the Mosque premises without causing any damage to it.

This prompted the Muslim party to move the Supreme Court challenging the order. They the Court that the order was passed at 4:30 pm on Friday last week and that the ASI had started excavation near the western wall.

Accordingly, to allow the petitioners some breathing time the Court allowed them to move Allahabad High Court and directed that the district court order will not be enforced until Wednesday, July 26.


Source: Bar & Bench

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