SC to hear Gyanvapi-Kashi Vishwanath case on Friday

Gyanvapi Masjid
View of Kashi Vishwanath Temple Dham and Gyanvapi Masjid complex, in Varanasi, Saturday, May 14, 2022. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: The Supreme Court agreed to set up a bench on Friday to hear the Gyanvapi-Kashi Vishwanath case in which the Hindu side has sought extension of an order by which protection of an area where a "Shivling" was found in Gyanvapi premises was ordered.

A bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud on Thursday took note of the submissions of advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain, appearing for some Hindu devotees, that the May 17 order of the apex court granting protection was expiring on November 12 and it needed to be extended.

"We will constitute a bench at 3 pm tomorrow," the CJI said.

While mentioning the plea for urgent hearing, Jain said the order of protecting the area would be expiring.

On being inquired about the fate of the plea of mosque committee challenging the maintainability of petition of Hindu devotees, the lawyer said the trial court had rejected it and an appeal is pending in the Allahabad High Court.

On May 17, the top court had passed an interim order directing the district magistrate of Varanasi to ensure protection of the area inside the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri complex where a 'Shivling' was said to be found in the survey.

The apex court had also allowed Muslims to offer namaz in the Gyanvapi mosque.

On November 8, fast track court at Varanasi postponed till November 14 its judgement on a separate plea seeking permission to allow worship of the 'Shivling' claimed to have been found in the mosque complex.

On April 26, a lower court (civil judge-senior division) that was earlier hearing a plea by a group of women seeking permission for daily worship of idols of Hindu deities on the mosque's outer walls had ordered a videographic survey of the Gyanvapi complex and the Hindu side had claimed the Shivling' was found during the exercise.

However, the Muslim side has maintained that the object was part of the water fountain mechanism at the 'wazookhana' reservoir where devotees carry out ablutions before offering namaz.

The Supreme Court had transferred the case from the civil judge (senior division) to the district judge on May 20, saying looking at the "complexities" and "sensitivity" of the issue, it is better if a senior judicial officer with an experience of over 25-30 years handles the case.

District judge A K Vishwesh is hearing another case demanding a survey of closed underground places in Gyanvapi premises. This case will be heard on November 11.

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