Stating that the plea by the five Hindu women petitioners for worshipping Hindu gods and goddesses inside the Gyanvapi mosque premises as ‘maintainable,’ a Varanasi court on Monday rejected the Anjuman Islamia Masjid Committee’s plea challenging the maintainability suit filed under Order 7 Rule 11 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC). The court is set to hear the matter next on September 22.
During the hearing, the court further ruled that the Places of Worship Act 1991 was not applicable as the court pointed out, citing the plaintiff, the puja of Maa Shringar Gauri on the outer wall of the mosque compound was going on till 1993. The court, rejecting the Masjid Committee’s plea, ruled that the petitions were not about determining the religious character of the place, but the right to worship Hindu deities inside the masjid complex. While arguing before the court, the Masjid Committee pointed out that the mosque complex belongs to the Waqf Board. Hence, the pleas filed by the Hindu side is not maintainable, it further argued. However, the court ruled that the Waqf Act of 1995 is not applicable in this case.
The Masjid Committee is likely to challenge the lower court’s order and move the Allahabad High Court, according to reports.
Ahead of the key judgement, prohibitory orders under Section 144 were in place across the city. The Supreme Court had ordered the transfer of the Gauri Shringar case from a civil court to the Varanasi district judge’s court due to the “complexity and sensitivity of the matter.”
Before the top court intervened, the civil court had ordered a videographic survey to be conducted inside the mosque’s premises, after the five women petitioners claimed the presence of Hindu deities inside the mosque in their petitions. After the details of a ‘shivling’ found inside the ‘wazookhana’ from the sealed survey report got leaked to the media, the court ordered the mosque complex to be sealed. The Muslim side approached the Supreme Court against the lower court’s order and the videographic survey as they claimed that the exercise violated key provisions of the Places of Worship Act, 1991. In May, the top court allowed the survey and stated that the matter will be decided in due course. The apex court also allowed the entry of Muslims inside the mosque premises for offering daily prayers, while directing the Varnasi District Magistrate to secure the ‘wazookhana’ where a ‘shivling’ was claimed to be found during the survey.