Gyanvapi masjid: SC declines to pass order on plea seeking stay on inspection

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India N V Ramana said it cannot pass any order without looking at the files. “I have no idea about this case. Let me look at the papers. We will list it…,” the CJI said as Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, brought up the matter during the mentioning hours – when urgent matters are brought to the attention of the court.

Ahmadi said “this is the mosque for time immemorial” and that the trial court order is “clearly interdicted by the Places of Worship Act. 1991. Now today to direct the Commissioner to conduct the survey…”.

“Let me see. I will give a date,” replied the CJI.

Ahmadi then sought a status quo order to which the CJI said, “Without knowing anything, how can I?…Let me see the file….”

The senior counsel responded, “But the penny might drop in the meanwhile…because the survey is being conducted right now”.

But the CJI told him, “Counsel, I don’t know anything. How can I pass any order? Sorry.” He added that he will go through the files and decide if and when it should be listed. “Suddenly you are mentioning.”

On April 8, while hearing the petitioners, the Varanasi court had appointed Advocate Commissioner Ajay Kumar Mishra to carry out an inspection of the Maa Shringar Gauri Sthal at the disputed site — and directed him to “prepare videography of the action” and submit a report.

On April 21, the Allahabad High Court dismissed a petition filed by the mosque committee challenging the local court’s order. On April 26, the Varanasi court again ordered videography of the disputed site. Though the inspection began, it was halted after the mosque committee filed an application in the court, alleging bias.

On Thursday, the Varanasi court ordered resumption of the video survey — even if it meant getting “locks opened/ broken”. The inspection report should be submitted on May 17, it said.

While passing an order on an application filed by the mosque committee, which had accused Mishra of being “biased”, the court appointed two additional commissioners — lawyers Vishal Singh and Ajay Pratap Singh — to assist him.

Civil Judge (Senior Division) Ravi Kumar Diwakar said top district officials “have the responsibility” to complete the inspection by the court-appointed commission, and directed the director general of police and chief secretary to supervise “related action”.

It ordered for an FIR to be registered “if anyone creates any hindrance”. “Under no condition should the commission’s work be stopped even if any of the petitioners cooperate or not,” said the court.

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