Gyanvapi - Kashi Vishwanath case: Varanasi court directs ASI to hand over items recovered during survey to District Magistrate

Judge AK Vishvesha also directed the ASI to compile a catalog of the materials uncovered during the survey, provide a copy of this list to the Court and submit another copy to the district magistrate.
Gyanvapi Mosque
Gyanvapi Mosque

A Varanasi court on Wednesday directed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to hand over possession of all historically significant objects recovered during ongoing scientific survey of the Gyanvapi mosque premises to the district magistrate.

Judge AK Vishvesha also directed the ASI to compile a catalog of the materials uncovered during the survey, provide a copy of this list to the Court and submit another copy to the district magistrate.

"It seems appropriate that whatever objects and materials are obtained from the site in question during the survey of Archaeological Survey of India, which are related to the facts of this case or related to Hindu religion and worship system or which may be important for the settlement of this case from historical or archaeological point of view, ASI will hand over those items to the District Magistrate or any officer nominated by him who will hand over those items. Will keep safe and whenever the court summons them, they will present them in the court," the Court directed.

The ASI is currently conducting a scientific examination of the Gyanvapi mosque complex following a directive issued by a Varanasi district judge on July 21, which was recently confirmed by the Allahabad High Court and the Supreme Court.

The order by judge Vishvesha was passed on a plea filed by Rakhi Singh, who is a plaintiff in a suit which aims to secure year-round access for worship inside the Mosque premises.

The case began when Hindu devotees approached a civil court seeking the right to worship inside Gyanvapi Mosque, claiming that it was a Hindu temple and still houses Hindu deities.

The district court on July 21 ordered an ASI survey of the mosque premises excluding the area previously sealed by the Supreme Court (wuzukhana or an ablution pond).

The survey is being conducted amid disputed claims over whether an object found in the Gyanvapi Mosque premises during an earlier survey of the mosque in May 2022 is a Shivlinga or a fountain.

The district court on July 21 this year ordered ASI survey of the mosque premises excluding the area previously sealed by the Supreme Court (wuzukhana or an ablution pond). The same was upheld by the Allahabad High Court on August 3.

The Supreme Court refused to interfere with the High Court order, after factoring in the assurance given by the ASI that there would be no excavation or destruction of property during the survey.

The present application by Rakhi Singh before the Varanasi court said that if the evidence related to the Hindu religion is destroyed, it would pose challenges in handling the suit and also hinder the ability to arrive at a proper judicial decision in this matter.

The application also sought directions to respondent authorities to create rules to limit and oversee the number of individuals offering Namaz at the disputed site.

Additionally, it sought a directive for the Anjuman Committee (the Muslim party to the suit) to abstain from any actions related to coloring or altering the structures within the Gyanvapi mosque premises.

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