Gyanvapi Case: SC Asks Varanasi Court to Not Pass Orders Today

The court adjourned hearing to tomorrow after it was submitted that Hari Shankar Jain, lawyer for the Hindu plaintiffs, was discharged from hospital yesterday.

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday, May 19, adjourned the hearing in the Gyanvapi mosque case to tomorrow and directed the Varanasi civil court not to pass any orders on it on Thursday.

The court allowed this adjournment after it was submitted that advocate Hari Shankar Jain was discharged from hospital only yesterday, LiveLaw has reported. Jain is the main counsel for the five Hindu women plaintiffs who had moved the Varanasi trial court alleging that the Gyanvapi mosque houses Hindu deities and that Hindus should be allowed to worship their Hindu gods at the site.

An apex court bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, Surya Kant and P.S. Narasimha are hearing arguments in a petition filed by the mosque committee challenging the Varanasi court’s order of a survey in the mosque premises.

In April, the Varanasi court had appointed a court commissioner to conduct a survey and video record the site. The mosque committee challenged this order before the Allahabad high court, but it was dismissed in the same month.

The masjid committee’s plea claiming that the court commissioner was biased was also dismissed.

On May 16, the plaintiff told the Varanasi court that a ‘shivling’ had been found within the mosque premises, following which Civil Judge (Senior Division) Ravi Kumar Diwakar ordered that the area where it was found be sealed.

A day later, the Supreme Court, however, instructed that the area where the ‘shivling’ was found should be protected but without impeding the access of Muslim devotees.

Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the Masjid Committee on Thursday told the apex court that the Varanasi trial court will be hearing applications seeking to alter the wall of the wazukhana of the mosque – the area where the ‘shivling’ has allegedly been found – and thus requested for these proceedings to also be stayed.

“We’ll keep it tomorrow but don’t proceed before the trial court today since they have apprehension,” Justice Chandrachud told advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain, who agreed.

“We accordingly direct trial court to strictly act according to the arrangement as here and it should desist from passing any orders,” the Supreme Court added.

The plaintiffs’ demand to pray at specific areas of the mosque has raised questions on whether such a demand is in violation of the Places of Worship Act, 1991.