Gyanvapi: SC to hear masjid committee's plea against temple restoration orders

A general view of the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi. File Photo: PTI.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear an appeal of the Gyanvapi management committee against an Allahabad High Court order which held that lawsuits for "restoration" of a temple where the mosque stands in Varanasi are maintainable. "We will tag this with the main case," a bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said.

The plea in the top court was filed by the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid, the committee which manages the affairs of the Gyanvapi mosque.

On December 19 last year, the Allahabad High Court dismissed pleas challenging the maintainability of a 1991 suit seeking the "restoration" of a temple at the site where the Gyanvapi mosque stands.

The HC had said that the "religious character" of a disputed place can only be decided by the court. It had dismissed five related petitions -- on maintainability and also against a survey of the mosque premises -- filed over the years by the mosque committee and the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board.

The HC had held that the suit filed before the district court is not barred by the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, which forbids "conversion" of the "religious character" of a place from what existed on August 15, 1947.

The suit was filed by petitioners seeking the right to worship in the Gyanvapi mosque adjoining the Kashi Vishwanath temple. Muslim litigants had challenged its maintainability, citing the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act. 

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