Allahabad HC allows survey of Mathura's Shahi Idgah, mosque committee to move SC

The order, the second of its kind, follows the recent Archeological Survey of India's survey of the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi

The court agreed to appoint an advocate commissioner to oversee the survey, responding to claims that the mosque premises might have signs of a former Hindu temple.  (photo: IANS)
The court agreed to appoint an advocate commissioner to oversee the survey, responding to claims that the mosque premises might have signs of a former Hindu temple. (photo: IANS)


The Allahabad High Court on Thursday, 14 December allowed a court-monitored survey of the Shahi Idgah adjoining the Krishna Janmabhoomi temple, an important milestone in the temple-mosque dispute in Mathura.

The court agreed to the appointment of an advocate commissioner to oversee the survey of the mosque premises, which the petitioners claim holds signs suggesting that it was a Hindu temple once.

Justice Mayank Kumar Jain said the modalities of the survey will be discussed at the next hearing on 18 December.

The order on the Krishna Janmabhoomi-Shahi Idgah issue is the second temple-mosque dispute in which the high court has given its nod to a survey over the past months.

The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) recently completed a survey of the Gyanvapi mosque next to Varanasi’s Kashi Vishwanath temple, but has sought more time from a local court to submit its report.

While arguing their case for a survey, the Mathura petitioners cited the Varanasi case as well.

Reacting to the high court order, the Shahi Idgah Masjid Management Committee said it will challenge it in the Supreme Court.

The HC said no harm should be caused to the Mathura structure during the survey, which he indicated could be overseen by a three-member commission of advocates “The commission is duty bound to submit its fair and impartial report on the basis of the actual status of the property. The commission may also submit its discovery as to the existence of particular signs at the property as referred by the plaintiffs,” Justice Jain observed.

It said the representatives of both sides to the dispute can accompany the commission members and assist them “so that the correct position of the spot may be noted and be brought before the Court." The court said the sanctity of the premises has to be strictly maintained during the execution of the survey.

The application submitted to the high court by the Hindu side said a lotus-shaped pillar characteristic of Hindu temples exists on the mosque premises, and an image of the 'Sheshnag' deity is also present there.

It was also submitted that Hindu religious symbols and engravings are visible at the base of the pillar. The petition claimed that Lord Krishna's birthplace lies beneath the mosque.

It was filed on behalf of the deity Bhagwan Shri Krishna Virajman and seven others through advocates Hari Shankar Jain, Vishnu Shankar Jain, Prabhash Pandey and Devki Nandan.

The applicants had sought the appointment of a commission with specific directions to submit its report within a stipulated time period after conducting a survey. The petition also sought directions from the court to photograph and record the entire proceedings on video.

The Hindu side’s plea was opposed by the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board and the mosque committee. They argued that no order on the application should be passed at this stage as their objection on the maintainability of the suit was still pending.

Among the laws invoked by the Muslim side was the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991.

The judge observed that the defendants have the opportunity to file their objections against the survey commission’s report if they feel aggrieved by it.

“The report filed by the commissioner is always subject to evidence of the parties, and is admissible in evidence,” he said.

“The commissioners are competent witnesses and they may be called for evidence during the trial, if desired by any party to the suit. The other party will always have an opportunity to cross examine them," the court said.

"It is also to be kept in mind that by the appointment of a panel of three advocates as commission, either party would not suffer any harm or injury. The commissioner report does not affect the merits of the case,” it added.

In May, the high court transferred to itself all cases related to the Mathura dispute.

On November 16, Justice Jain had reserved the order on the Hindu side’s petition seeking a survey of the Shahi Idgah premises.

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Published: 15 Dec 2023, 10:07 AM