ASI urges Varanasi court not to make Gyanvapi survey report public for four more weeks

Hindu side counsel Madan Mohan Yadav says ASI referred to a recent Allahabad High Court judgment while seeking four weeks' time

The Gyanvapi mosque site (photo: National Herald archives )
The Gyanvapi mosque site (photo: National Herald archives )
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PTI

The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) on Wednesday urged a Varanasi court not to make its Gyanvapi mosque complex survey report public for at least four more weeks, according to the lawyer for the Hindu side.

Varanasi district court judge A.K. Vishvesh then adjourned the matter until Thursday, Hindu side counsel Madan Mohan Yadav said.

According to the lawyer, the ASI requested the court for four more weeks before the sealed survey report is opened. Yadav said the ASI referred to a recent judgment of the Allahabad High Court while seeking four weeks' time.

Allahabad HC had on 19 December dismissed several pleas from Muslim petitioners challenging the maintainability of a suit seeking restoration of the temple where the Gyanvapi mosque now stands in Varanasi.

In his observation, justice Rohit Ranjan Agarwal had said the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991 did not define religious character, and this can only be determined through evidence presented in the court by opposing parties.

Either the Gyanvapi compound has a Hindu religious character or a Muslim religious character. It can't have dual character at the same time, the judge had said.

"The trial in this case of vital national importance should be concluded as soon as possible, preferably within six months. If required, the lower court may direct ASI for a further survey," the HC had observed.

Following a district court order of 21 July, the ASI carried out the scientific survey of the Gyanvapi premises, located next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple, to determine whether the 17th-century mosque was constructed over a pre-existing structure of a Hindu temple.

During the hearing in the district court on Wednesday, the Hindu side said permission be sought from the Supreme Court for cleaning the mosque's wazu khana (used by people for ritual ablutions before offering namaz) as several fish have died there.

The Muslim side raised objections to this and said the wazu khana is their property and they should be given the responsibility to clean it.

The Hindu side told the district court that the wazu khana was sealed on the orders of the Supreme Court, and that it should be cleaned either by them or the administration.

The court will decide on this matter also on Thursday.

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