The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee’s plea challenging the Allahabad High Court’s verdict allowing the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to conduct a scientific survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex.
The Supreme Court allowed the survey to take place while taking on record an undertaking made on behalf of the ASI that no excavation will be done at the site and no damage will be caused to the structure, Live Law reported.
“The order of the learned trial judge passed under Order 26 Rule 10A of the CPC cannot be prima facie at this stage to be said as without jurisdiction”, the bench noted in the order. The bench noted that the evidentiary value of the scientific commission is open to be tested in the suit and is open to objections, including cross-examination. Hence, a report of the commissioner, by itself, does not amount to a determination of the matters in dispute, the Live Law report explained.
In addition to the undertaking by the ASI, the Court directed that the ASI survey should be carried out through “non-invasive” processes.
The report which will be prepared by the ASI shall be remitted to the trial court and shall thereafter abide by the directions which will be passed by the District Judge.
The Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee had moved the Allahabad High Court after the Supreme Court put on hold the survey on July 24 and allowed the Muslim side to approach the High Court.
An ASI team reached the mosque premises on Friday morning and began the survey of the complex.
The Varanasi district administration made elaborate arrangements at the complex for the Friday prayers anticipating an increased footfall.
According to officials, the ASI survey that started at 7.00 am on Friday with a team of 40 experts, was stopped for lunch and is scheduled to resume after 02.30 pm.
“The scientific survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex started at 7 am today by a team of 40 experts. Photography and videography are being done,” an ANI report cited Sudhir Tripathi, lawyer of the Hindu side saying. He was present inside Varanasi’s Gyanvapi mosque complex during the ASI survey.
“The survey will resume post-lunch. This survey will continue for a long time,” he said.
Earlier in the day, a team of the ASI arrived at the Gyanvapi mosque premises adjacent to Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi and started a scientific survey of the complex amid tight security.
Allahabad High Court on Thursday allowed the Archaeological Survey of India to conduct a survey at the Gyanvapi mosque as it dismissed Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee’s plea, challenging the survey of the complex, adjacent to Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi.
The Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee had challenged the Varanasi District Judge’s July 21 order.
On July 21, Varanasi district judge AK Vishvesha ordered the ASI survey of the Gyanvapi complex on an application moved by four Hindu women on May 16, 2023.
Earlier, the Allahabad High Court asked the ASI to not start the survey of Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi as the hearing on the matter was underway after Supreme Court put on hold till 5 pm July 26 a detailed scientific survey by the ASI to determine if the mosque located next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple.