HC seeks Gyanvapi mosque body's reply on plea demanding ASI survey of 'wazukhana'

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Prayagraj, Jul 9 (PTI) The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday granted a month to the Gyanvapi Masjid committee to file a counter affidavit on a plea challenging a Varanasi court order that refused to direct the ASI to survey the mosque's 'wazukhana'.

The high court has fixed August 14 as the next date of hearing.

The court's order came on a revision petition filed by Rakhi Singh, one of the plaintiffs in the Shringar Gauri Worshipping suit.

In her petition, Singh pleaded that the survey of the 'wazukhana' area is necessary in the interest of justice. It will benefit the plaintiffs and the defendants alike and help the court arrive at a just decision in the suit, she said.

Her petition also contended that the Varanasi district judge, in his October 21, 2023 order, failed to exercise the jurisdiction vested in it by law to direct a survey of the 'wazukhana' area, where devouts offer ritual ablutions before offering 'namaz'.

It further submitted that the court of the district judge erred in stating that it had deliberately excluded the duly protected area from the ambit of the survey, as there was no such prayer in the application.

Appearing before the court, Saurabh Tiwari with Amitabh Trivedi argued that the survey by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) of the 'wazukhana' area is necessary so that the religious character of the entire property can be determined.

It was also argued that it is possible to survey the 'wazukhana' area, except for the structure which the Hindu calls the 'Shivling', using non-invasive methods as directed by the Supreme Court.

Allahabad High Court Justice Rohit Ranjan Agarwal passed the order granting a month to Intezamia committee of the Gyanvapi mosque to file a counter affidavit on the civil revision challenging the Varanasi district judge's October 21, 2023 order.

The district judge's order refused to direct the ASI to undertake a survey of the 'wazukhana' area, except for the structure which the Hindu side calls the 'Shivling' inside the Gyanvapi mosque.

It may be noted that the ASI has already conducted a scientific survey of the Gyanvapi complex and has also submitted its report to the Varanasi district judge.

The ASI had conducted a survey in accordance with the July 21, 2023 order of the Varanasi district judge to determine if the mosque was constructed over a pre-existing structure of a Hindu temple. PTI COR RAJ KSS KSS