Gyanvapi Row: SC Halts ASI Survey Till July 26, Directs Allahabad HC To Hear Mosque Panel's Plea

The Supreme Court also asked the Allahabad High Court to hear an appeal filed by the mosque committee before the expiry of its order.

In the eye of a storm Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi

The Supreme Court on Monday halted a "detailed scientific survey" of the ASI to determine if the Gyanvapi mosque located next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi was built upon a temple till 5 pm on July 26.

The Apex Court also asked the Allahabad High Court to hear an appeal filed by the mosque committee before the expiry of its order.

A bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud took note of the submissions made by senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, who appeared in the court on behalf of the mosque committee, stayed the operation of the order till Wednesday evening and asked the committee to file an appeal in the meantime.

"We are of the view that some breathing time should be granted to the mosque committee," said the bench that also comprised Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra.

"We permit the petitioner (mosque committee) to move the high court under Article 227 (writ jurisdiction of high courts), challenging the order of the district judge of Varanasi, having taken regard of the fact that the order was passed at 4:30 pm on July 21 and the 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 5 pm on July 26. If the petitioner moves the high court, the registrar-judicial of the high court shall ensure that it is placed before a roster (a bench) so that it is heard before the status quo order ends," the bench said in its order.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was representing the Uttar Pradesh government, took instructions and informed the bench that the ASI is conducting photography and radar-imaging at the site and presently, no invasive or excavation work is underway.

The bench had earlier said it will hear the plea during the day.

Earlier, at 7am ASI began scientific survey of Gyanvapi mosque located adjacent to Kashi Vishwanath temple in Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi..

ASI team has arrived at the site to conduct a scientific survey to determine if the Gyanvapi mosque located next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple is built upon a temple,PTI reported.

The report quoting Varanasi District Magistrate S Rajalingam said, "We have been intimated by the ASI that the survey will begin tomorrow."

Advocate of the Hindu side Madan Mohan Yadav said the ASI team has reached Varanasi and will start the survey of the Gyanvapi complex at around 7 am on Monday, it said.

He added that an advocate each of the petitioners will accompany the survey team.

District judge A K Vishvesh on Friday directed the ASI to conduct a detailed scientific survey -- including excavations, wherever necessary -- to determine if the mosque in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh is built upon a temple.

Varanasi court's order on Gyanvapi row:

The mosque's 'wazukhana', where a structure claimed by Hindu litigants to be a 'shivling' exists, will not be part of the survey, following an earlier Supreme Court order protecting that spot in the complex.

The judge directed the ASI to submit a report to the court by August 4, along with videos and photographs of survey proceedings.

Earlier, a court in Uttar Pradesh's Varanasi had allowed for the scientific survey of the Gyanvapi Mosque complex by the ASI. The order comes on the petition by Hindu devotees. 

Gyanvapi row:

The various petitions related to the Gyanvapi complex stem from an initial petition filed by five Hindu devotees in August 2021, which sought rights to pray daily before Hindu idols on the outer walls of Gyanvapi Mosque. In the hearing of the petition, a videography survey was ordered. During the survey, the 'Shivling' was found close to the 'wazookhana' —ablution pond— in the mosque. 

The Muslim side had opposed the plea, saying an ASI survey could damage the complex.

In the plea on the ASI survey, the arguments were heard on July 14 and the order was reserved for July 21 (Friday).