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Gyanvapi Mosque Row Highlights: SC asks Varanasi DM to ensure ‘shivling’ area protected without impeding Muslims’ access

Gyanvapi Masjid Case News Highlights: The Varanasi court removed advocate-Commissioner Ajay Kumar Mishra, who was responsible for the filming and carrying out the survey of the Kashi Vishwanath temple-Gyanvapi mosque complex, from his post.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: May 19, 2022 8:16:23 am
Security personnel outside Gyanvapi Masjid, in Varanasi district, Friday, April 6, 2022. (PTI)

Gyanvapi Mosque Case Highlights: The Supreme Court Tuesday asked the Varanasi District Magistrate to protect the area where the ‘shivling’ was found without impeding the right of Muslims to enter and worship. The court will hear the matter again on May 19.

Gyanvapi Mosque Row |liveFollow latest updates, May 19

Meanwhile, the Varanasi court Tuesday removed advocate-Commissioner Ajay Kumar Mishra from his post. Mishra was responsible for the filming and carrying out the survey of the Kashi Vishwanath temple-Gyanvapi mosque complex. The court also granted two days extension for the submission of the committee’s survey report. Earlier on Monday, the Varanasi court directed the district administration to seal the spot in the mosque complex where a Shivling was claimed to have been found during the videography survey.

The Supreme Court was hearing a plea by the Committee of Management of Anjuman Intezamia Masjid, Varanasi, challenging the videography survey ordered by a local court of the Maa Shringar Gauri Sthal in the complex. The Muslim body contends that it is contrary to provisions of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991. The Hindu Sena President has filed an intervention in the apex court, seeking a dismissal of the appeal, the Bar and Bench reported.

Live Blog

Gyanvapi Mosque hearing: Justice Chandrachud, Narasimha are hearing Masjid committee's plea challenging survey of site; Varanasi court orders sealing of spot after shivling discovery claim;

19:35 (IST)17 May 2022
Needle moves within BJP on Kashi, Mathura: ‘Shivling changes everything… Ayodhya context invalid’

When the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Ram temple in Ayodhya on November 9, 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called it a “day to forget any bitterness one may have”. The same day, responding to a question on whether the RSS would now take up the issue of the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi and the Shahi Idgah in Mathura, its chief Mohan Bhagwat said: “Because of a historical backdrop, the Sangh got associated with this movement (Ayodhya) as an organisation. It is an exception. Now we will again be associated with human development and this movement will not remain of concern to us.”

People at the Gyanvapi mosque and the adjoining Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh in this photograph dated March 12, 2021. (Express Photo: Anand Singh)

Both the BJP and the RSS leadership gave strict directives to their units across the country to avoid any triumphalism over the verdict.

That needle is now moving. Read here. 

18:32 (IST)17 May 2022
Opinion | On Gyanvapi Mosque, we are debating the wrong question

What was being searched for (again) since the violent slogan “Ayodhya to jhanki hai, Kashi Mathura baki hai” (Ayodhya is a trailer, Varanasi and Mathura are yet to come) was exclaimed, has been found. No, not the Shivling that the petitioners of the lawsuit filed in a Varanasi civil court allege to have found in the wuzu khana of the Gyanvapi Mosque. What has been found, or rather, created, is a rupture in the wall that separates the modern constitutional democracy of India from its ancient and medieval polity — the polity characterised by expansionist warfare and legitimised by the divine instead of the values of modernity.

Muslims arrive to offer the Friday prayers, at Gyanvapi Masjid in Varanasi, Friday, May 13, 2022. (PTI)

After the blot on our modern history called the demolition of Babri Masjid, what we see unfolding in Varanasi is another legitimisation of an apparent conflict in architectural history which, if we have not already learnt, is an exercise in violent majoritarianism.  Read here. 

17:24 (IST)17 May 2022
Gyanvaapi survey: No stay of proceedings before Varanasi court

The Supreme Court did not pronounce a stay on proceedings before the Varanasi court with regard to the Gyanvaapi survey.

17:21 (IST)17 May 2022
SC orders to protect shivling without impeding access of Muslims to the mosque

The Supreme Court Tuesday issued an order to protect the area where the shivling was found without affecting the right of Muslims to enter and worship.

17:03 (IST)17 May 2022
SC to hear the matter on May 19

The Supreme Court said it will hear the matter again on Thursday. "We have to balance it out. SC suggests it will say DM Varanasi has to ensure that area where Shivling is protected without affecting the right of Muslims to enter and worship," said the court.

"We will protect part of this order where Shivling was found. But the rest of the order in points 1,2 and 3 is stayed," said the court. 

16:56 (IST)17 May 2022
SC says it needs clarity on Varanasi court order

The Supreme Court said it needs clarity on whether the order is only for sealing the area where shivling was found or granting all three prayers, namely sealing of spot, restricting the number of Muslims offering namaz, and preventing the use of wazu khana.

16:53 (IST)17 May 2022
SG for Uttar Pradesh asks for a day's time to respond

The Solicitor General, appearing for the state of Uttar Pradesh, has asked for time till Wednesday to respond. 

"Let me look at ramifications so that there is no unintended consequence," he said, reported Bar and Bench. 

16:50 (IST)17 May 2022
Shivling area will be protected but will not impede access of Muslims to the mosque for prayers, says SC

Back to the hearing in the Supreme Court.

After suggesting that it can ask the trial court to first hear the Masjid Committee's application, the Supreme Court said that it will issue a notice to the effect. It asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the state of Uttar Pradesh, to assist the court. 

"We will issue notice to plaintiffs. Till the next date of listing, we will issue a direction that DM will ensure that the shivling area will be protected but it will not impede access of Muslims to the mosque for prayers. it is an ex parte order," the court said, reported Bar and Bench.

16:42 (IST)17 May 2022
Varanasi court removes official responsible for survey

Meanwhile, Advocate-Commissioner Ajay Kumar Mishra, who led the filming and survey of the Kashi Vishwanath temple-Gyanvapi mosque complex, has been removed from his post appointed by the Varanasi court.

16:38 (IST)17 May 2022
Can ask the trial court to first hear the Masjid Committee's application, says SC

In response to Adv Huzefa Ahmadi's argument, the Supreme Court suggests that it can ask the trial court to first hear the Masjid Committee's application questioning the maintainability of the suit. 

16:35 (IST)17 May 2022
Under the garb of commission proceeding, the status quo is sought to be altered: Advocate

Speaking on the events of last week, senior Adv Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the Masjid Committee, said: 'On Saturday and Sunday, Commissioner went to execute the survey, and Commissioner was fully aware that matter is pending before the Supreme Court and is listed before this bench. Varanasi Court on Monday ordered to seal a spot in the complex after being told by the Commissioner that a Shivling was found inside the Gyanvapi Mosque premises.'

Advocate Ahmadi read out the Varanasi court order that prohibited Muslims from performing ablution in the mosque complex, adding that under the garb of commission proceeding, the status quo is sought to be altered and the area is being earmarked and the area is being sealed. 

16:31 (IST)17 May 2022
'Why are you cherry-picking a person to do the survey?': Masjid Committee advocate asks SC

Another point made senior Adv Huzefa Ahmadi, who leads the Counsel for Masjid Committee's case, was on the selection of an advocate-commissioner.

"We were apprehensive about the appointment of an advocate-commissioner. We asked, why are you cherry-picking a person for the commissioner to do the survey?" he told the court. 

16:28 (IST)17 May 2022
SC hearing continues; advocate for Masjid Committee makes their case

Speaking on the shivling, senior Adv Huzefa Ahmadi, who leads the Counsel for Masjid Committee's case, says:

16:25 (IST)17 May 2022
Prayer is for declaration and injunction from any obstruction to worship, says advocate

Senior Adv Huzefa Ahmadi, who leads the Counsel for Masjid Committee's case, said that the prayer in the apex court is for declaration and injunction from any obstruction to worship.

He added that the prayers in suit categorically speak about changing the religious character of the structure which presently is a mosque, reports Express' Ananthakrishnan G.

16:18 (IST)17 May 2022
SC hearing commences

A Supreme Court bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and P S Narasimha has taken up the appeal against the Gyanvaapi survey for hearing, report Express' Ananthakrishnan G.

The appeal has been filed by the Committee of Management of Anjuman Intezamia Masjid, Varanasi, against the survey ordered by the local court.

16:16 (IST)17 May 2022
Varanasi court judgment awaited

The judgment by the Varanasi court on the plea asking for a two-day extension to the court-appointed commission's survey is expected soon. 

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court hearing is scheduled to begin in 5 minutes. The delay was because Senior Adv Huzefa Ahmadi, who leads the Counsel for Masjid Committee's case, was in a different courtroom. Though the advocate appeared shortly, Justice Chandrachud called for a 5-minute comfort break. "We will take a 5 minutes comfort break and be here. We don't want to be mentally stressed," he said, as per a Bar and Bench report. 

16:04 (IST)17 May 2022
SC case: Hearing to begin shortly

The hearing of a plea challenging the videography survey of the Maa Shringar Gauri Sthal in the Kashi Vishwanath temple-Gyanvapi mosque complex is set to begin shortly.

15:51 (IST)17 May 2022
A quick recap

A quick recap for our readers who are joining in now. There are two cases related to the Kashi Vishwanath temple-Gyanvapi mosque complex that we are tracking today.



    1. The Varanasi court-appointed Commission that carried out the survey in the complex has asked for two days extension for submitting its report. The judgment is expected to be announced at 4 pm today.
    1. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a plea challenging the videography survey ordered by a local court of the Maa Shringar Gauri Sthal in the complex. The bench is hearing the cause list in order, and was at Item 13 at 3.15 pm, according to the legal news website Bar and Bench. The Gyanvapi plea is Item 40.
15:40 (IST)17 May 2022
Varanasi Court judgment expected at 4 pm

The Varanasi court-appointed Commission that carried out the survey of the Kashi Vishwanath temple-Gyanvapi mosque complex has submitted an application in the court seeking two additional days to submit its report.

The court is expected to pronounce its judgment at 4 pm today, according to the legal affairs website Live Law.

15:30 (IST)17 May 2022
Opinion | In Gyanvapi mosque, an unfolding illegality

As the average Indian reels under fears of Covid and battles the bitter inflation, many noticed with worry and consternation that a court in Varanasi at the instance of a group of women petitioners (seeking permission to pray in the premises of the Gyanvapi Mosque) directed a survey to be conducted of the mosque, by a lawyer commissioner, one Ajay Kumar Mishra. The said directions to conduct the survey were challenged by the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, which manages the Gyanvapi mosque before the Allahabad High Court. Unfortunately, the Court upheld the order leading to the filing of a Special Leave Petition.

Devotees leave after offering Friday prayers at Gyanvapi Masjid in Varanasi. (PTI)

On Friday, mentioning this matter, the Senior Advocate appearing for the Anjuman Committee requested the Supreme Court that it stay the survey. However, the apex court declined and instead listed the matter for the coming Tuesday. 

Read lawyer Nandita Rao's analysis of the Ayodhya verdict and the Gyanvapi case. 

In this file photo, view of Kashi Vishwanath Temple Dham and Gyanvapi Masjid complex, in Varanasi. (PTI)

Gyanvapi Mosque Case: Seal area where ‘shivling’ found, allow no one, orders Varanasi court

Returning the spotlight to the Kashi Vishwanath temple-Gyanvapi mosque controversy, a Varanasi court Monday directed the district administration to seal the spot in the mosque complex where a Shivling was claimed to have been found during a court-mandated videography survey that just concluded.

Civil Judge (Senior Division) Ravi Kumar Diwakar, hearing a plea by five women seeking permission for daily prayers at Maa Shringar Gauri Sthal on the outer wall of the mosque complex, said, “District Magistrate, Varanasi, is directed to immediately seal the place where the Shivling has been found. No person should be allowed to enter the place which will be sealed.”

“The responsibility for the security and custodianship of the place which will be sealed will be considered personally of Varanasi district magistrate, Varanasi police commissioner and the CRPF commandant, Varanasi,” the judge said.

Also Read:

Opinion | In Gyanvapi mosque, an unfolding illegality

Explained | What is the Places of Worship Act, and what are its provisions?

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