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SC sets aside ban on Muslim prayer at Gyanvapi Mosque in Varanasi

The Supreme Court, in its order, said that Shivling area will be protected. Muslims’ right to prayer, religious observances not to be disturbed inside the Gyanvapi mosque. The trial court judge’s directions that only 20 people will pray namaz etc will not operate now.

SNS | New Delhi |

The Supreme Court, in an interim order, set aside a local court’s order banning large gatherings for Muslim prayer at one of north India’s high-profile mosques, Gyanvapi ¬†Masjid, on Tuesday. The order came after a survey team claimed to have found relics of Hindu god Shiva and other Hindu symbols there.The top court stated that Muslims’ right to prayer should not be disturbed, and simultaneously the area where Hindu religious relics were found should be protected.

A Bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice DY Chandrachud, comprising Justice PS Narasimha passed the interim order a day after a local court in Varanasi — Hinduism’s holiest city and the site of the historic Gyanvapi Mosque — ruled that Islamic gatherings there should be limited to 20 people.

The Supreme Court also issued a notice to Uttar Pradesh Government and Hindu Sena, and other parties, and sought their detailed responses on the issue, and fixed the matter for further hearing till May 19.

The Supreme Court, in its order, said that Shivling area will be protected. Muslims’ right to prayer, religious observances not to be disturbed inside the Gyanvapi mosque. The trial court judge’s directions that only 20 people will pray namaz etc will not operate now.

Huzefa Ahmadi, lawyer for Muslim parties, said despite the fact that no report was filed by the commissioner, an application was filed by the plaintiff that commissioner noticed a Shivling near pond. This is highly improper as the commission report is supposed to be confidential until it is filed.

Ahmadi said that under the garb of commission proceeding, the status quo is sought to be altered and the area is being earmarked and the area is being sealed. All the orders, etc. must come to a standstill and a status quo must be maintained, he argued.

How you can seal the premises with greatest respect, I want to say that there is a string of illegal orders passed, he argued.

The Supreme Court said that if a Shivling is found, we have to maintain a balance. We will direct the District Magistrate to ensure protection of the place without restricting Muslims from praying.

“Issue notice returnable on Thursday, May 19, 2022,” Justice D Y Chandrachud orders.

The Supreme Court directed the District Magistrate of Varanasi to ensure that the Shivling recovered from the Mosque complex during a survey by the court commissioner be protected. It, however, made it clear that access of Muslims to the Mosque for prayers would not be impeded.

The court proceeded to issue notice in the matter and passed the following interim order:

“The operation and ambit of the order dated May 16, 2022, shall stand restricted to the extent that the DM Varanasi shall ensure that the area where Shivling is found will be duly protected. The above direction shall not in any manner restrain or impede access of Muslims to the mosque or use of it for performing prayers and religious observances.”

The court also said that Muslims will be allowed to perform wazu (cleansing) since it is part of religious observations.

The matter was mentioned by the petitioner (The Committee of Management Anjuman Intezamia Masjid) senior lawyer, Huzefa Ahmadi, on Friday morning for an early hearing, to which, the Supreme Court refused to pass any interim order on that day. It, however, had said that it will go through the papers and documents and will list it for hearing.

The Supreme Court had on May 13, refused to pass any order in the appeal mentioned by the petitioner, the Committee of management of the Anjuman-e intezamia Masjid, Varanasi, against the Allahabad High Court’s order which allowed an advocate commissioner to survey the Gyanvapi mosque.