The Allahabad High Court has issued a stay on the ASI Survey of the Gyanvapi Mosque Premises, which will be in effect until tomorrow. The court will resume the hearing on the matter at 3:30 pm tomorrow. As per the order passed by the bench, Chief Justice Pritinker Diwaker presiding, the ASI Official has been summoned to appear before the court during tomorrow’s hearing. The decision comes in response to the challenge presented by the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee against the Varanasi District Judge’s ASI Survey order of the Gyanvapi Mosque, issued on July 21.
The Allahabad High Court on Wednesday instructed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to complete the survey of the Gyanvapi mosque premises in Varanasi by July 31. Chief Justice Pritinker Diwaker emphasised that the survey should not cause any damage to the structure.
The High Court was addressing a petition filed by the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid, which manages the mosque, challenging the Varanasi District Court’s order allowing the ASI to survey the masjid premises, excluding the wuzukhana (an area for ablution).
The mosque committee approached the High Court after the Supreme Court temporarily halted the ASI survey until July 26, granting them time to appeal against the lower court’s decision.
During the hearing, the Chief Justice instructed the ASGI (representing the ASI) to summon an ASI official from Varanasi to the court. The official is to provide an affidavit explaining the structure and details of the proposed survey of the mosque.
According to the ASI official, the survey of the Gyanvapi mosque will employ modern technology and ensure no harm to the structure. The official stated that only 5% of the survey work has been completed thus far.
During the hearing, the masjid committee expressed concerns that the scientific survey might cause damage to the mosque. Senior advocate SFA Naqvi, representing the committee, urged the High Court to set aside the Varanasi court’s July 21 order, claiming that it was rushed and lacked the production of evidence from both parties.
In response, advocate Vishnu Jain, representing the Hindu side in the Gyanvapi mosque case, refuted the claims. Jain stated that the Solicitor General had already assured the Supreme Court on Monday that there would be no damage to the mosque, and no excavation would take place.
Jain also cited the precedent of the Ram Mandir case, where an ASI survey was conducted and accepted by both the High Court and the Supreme Court.
The Gyanvapi mosque, situated next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi, became the subject of contention when Hindu litigants sought an ASI survey to ascertain whether a temple previously stood at the same location.
Last week, the Varanasi court ordered the ASI to conduct a survey using advanced technologies like ground-penetrating radar and excavations. However, the Supreme Court temporarily halted the survey on Monday while the ASI team was present inside the mosque complex. The team left the premises after the Supreme Court’s verdict.