No ASI survey of Gyanvapi till July 26: SC
The Supreme Court of India today stayed the ongoing scientific survey in the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) till 5 pm, July 26. It has also ordered that no excavation work is to be conducted in the vicinity for the next two weeks.
The ASI team, started with the survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex on Monday morning, following the Varanasi district court’s July 21 order.
The 30-member team reached early morning and security was tightened around the mosque complex. The team has to submit a report by August 4.
The apex court also asked the Muslim side to approach the High Court first. The Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, overseeing the management of the Gyanvapi Mosque, has filed a petition against the Varanasi District Court’s order for surveying the mosque premises adjacent to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. The SC asked the Muslim side to file their plea in the Allahabad High Court tomorrow so that a hearing can be done on Wednesday.
The ASI team arrived at the mosque premises this morning and started the survey as per the orders of the Varanasi District Court. CJI D Chandrachud had asked the ASI to present information about the survey.
Senior advocate Huzaifa Ahmadi, representing the Anjuman Committee, told the bench that the survey was ordered late Friday evening and therefore they did not get an opportunity to appeal. He stated that the order mentions excavation, and therefore, the Muslim side should have been given a chance to appeal.
Ahmadi sought a stay of the ASI survey of the mosque complex saying it had earlier stayed the carbon dating of the structure, claimed as “Shivling” by the Hindu side, found in the ablution pond of the mosque during a court-mandated survey in May 2022. “What is the tearing hurry, this place has been a mosque since the 1500s? There must be a status quo order,” said Ahmadi.
The CJI questioned whether excavation would be involved in the survey, to which UP government’s counsel Tushar Mehta responded that the survey would be conducted using modern techniques, and there would be no damage. He said that no bricks have been removed from the site today and only measurement and photography work is being done today.
The apex court also asked the SG if he can make a statement that there will be a status quo until Friday, 28th July. To this, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government, said that there is no excavation or invasive method is being resorted to for the time being.
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