Supreme Court refuses to stay Hindu prayers in Gyanvapi mosque cellar

A priest performs prayers in the basement of Gyanvapi mosque following court orders allowing the resumption of the practice that was discontinued three decades back, in Varanasi, late Wednesday night, Jan. 31, 2024. Photo: PTI.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to stay the Hindu prayers in the southern cellar of the Gyanvapi mosque and sought a response from the Kashi Vishwanath Temple trustees on the plea of the mosque management committee. The top court also ordered maintaining the status quo on the offering of namaz by Muslims in the Gyanvapi premises in Varanasi.

The court was hearing a fresh plea of the Gyanvapi mosque management committee against an Allahabad High Court decision upholding a lower court's order allowing Hindu prayers in the southern cellar of the mosque.

A bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud also sought the response of priest Shailendra Kumar Pathak Vyas by April 30 on the plea of the mosque committee.

The bench, which also comprised Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, was hearing the plea of the mosque committee which manages the affairs of the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi.

The high court, on February 26, had dismissed the committee's plea in which it had challenged the district court's January 31 order allowing Hindus to offer prayers in the cellar.

While dismissing the plea of the mosque committee, the high court had observed that the Uttar Pradesh government's 1993 decision to stop worship rituals inside the "Vyas Tehkhana" -- located at the southern cellar of the Gyanvapi -- was "illegal". 

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