Varanasi court rejected Gyanvapi Masjid committee’s objection to petition seeking right to worship ‘Shivling’

Debjit Mukherjee: A Varanasi court on Thursday rejected Gyanvapi Masjid committee’s objection to a petition seeking right to worship ‘Shivling’ claimed to have been found in the mosque complex and fixed December 2 for hearing the case.

Fast-track court Judge Mahendra Kumar Pandey found the petition filed by Kiran Singh worth hearing and fixed December 2 for taking up the matter, Assistant District Government Counsel Sulabh Prakash said.

The court rejected the objection filed by Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee questioning maintainability of the Singh’s plea.

The mosque committee had objected to the plea citing the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991. The Act states that the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on August 15, 1947, must be maintained.

Prakash said lawyers of the Hindu side argued that Waqf Act is not applicable to them.

The fast-track court had on Monday postponed its judgement on the matter till November 17.

After hearing the arguments of both the sides to the dispute, the court had, on October 27, reserved its order on the suit for November 8. As the judge was on leave on November 8 the matter was posted for November 14. On May 24, plaintiff Kiran Singh, general secretary of the Vishwa Vedic Sanatan Sangh, filed the suit in the Varanasi district court, seeking a ban on the entry of Muslims into the Gyanvapi complex, handing over of the complex to the Sanatan Sangh and permission to offer prayers to the ‘Shivling’. On May 25, District Judge A K Vishvesh had ordered the transfer of the suit to the fast-track court. The Varanasi district magistrate, the police commissioner, the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, which manages the affairs of the Gyanvapi mosque, and the Vishwanath Temple Trust were made respondents in the suit.

On April 26, a lower court (civil judge-senior division) that was earlier hearing a plea moved by a group of women seeking permission for the daily worship of the idols of the Hindu deities on the mosque’s outer walls had ordered a videographic survey of the Gyanvapi complex. The Hindu side had claimed that a “Shivling” was found inside the mosque complex during the exercise. However, the Muslim side has maintained that the structure was part of the fountain mechanism at the “wazookhana” reservoir, where devotees carry out ritual ablutions before offering “namaz”.