Gyanvapi Masjid Case Explained: The Supreme Court of India transferred the Gyanvapi mosque case to the district court in Varanasi on May 20, 2022. The court observed that a “more seasoned hand” should deal with the case. The court ordered that senior and experienced judicial officer of UP Judicial services will hear the case.
The apex court stated that the interim order issued on May 17 for protection of the “Shivling” and allowing access to Muslims to offer prayers at the mosque will continue. The ruling was delivered by a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant and PS Narasimha.
The Varanasi district court will resume hearing of the Gyanvapi Masjid case on May 23.
Gyanvapi mosque case | SC says the trial of the matter will be done by district judge Varanasi. SC says its interim order of May 17 for protection of Shivling area will continue. Arrangement of Wuzu will be done. We’re very happy with order: Adv Vishnu Jain, Hindu side’s lawyer pic.twitter.com/4kGditCILC
— ANI (@ANI)
May 20, 2022
What is Gyanvapi Mosque Dispute?
The Gyanvapi Masjid case traces back to 1991 when a group of local priests filed a suit in the Varanasi Civil Court seeking permission to worship in the Gyanvapi Mosque Complex claiming that it was built on the demolished portion of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in the 17th Century. The plea sought to bypass the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, which was already in force.
Gyanvapi Masjid Case: Know Full Timeline
1991: Local Priests file a petition at the Varanasi Civil Court to seek permission to pray in the Gyanvapi Mosque complex. They claimed that the mosque was built upon the orders of Aurangzeb by demolishing a part of the Kashi Vishwanath temple during his reign.
December 2019: The case was revived in December 2019 after Supreme Court’s verdict on the Ayodhya Ramjanmabhoomi dispute. A Varanasi-based lawyer, Vijay Shankar Rastogi, filed a petition in the lower court seeking an archeological survey of the site, claiming that it was illegality in its construction.
The Varanasi court directed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to conduct a survey and submit its report. The order was opposed by the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, which runs the Gyanvapi mosque, and the Sunni Central Waqf Board.
The matter was then taken to the Allahabad High Court, which ordered an interim stay on the order directing ASI to conduct a survey of the Mosque site. The high court pointed out that under the provisions of the Places of Worship Act( Special Provisions) 1991, any change in the religious character of a place of worship from as it existed on August 15, 1947, is prohibited.
March 2021: A Supreme Court bench headed by the then Chief Justice of India, S.A. Bobde, agreed to examine the validity of The Places of Worship Act.
August 18, 2021: Five Hindu women filed a petition in the Varanasi court seeking permission to conduct dailyprayers of dieties- Hanuman, Nandi, Shringar Gauri, inside the Gyanvapi structure and also restrict people from causing damage to the idols. The site is at present open to prayers by Hindus only once a year, on the fourth day of the Navaratri in April.
April 2022- The Varanasi court ordered the inspection of the site, the court ordered for a videography survey. The court-mandated videography survey of the Gyanvapi Masjid complex was completed earlier this month and a lawyer of the Hindu side claimed a Shiva linga was found inside the well.
The Varanasi court’s order for the videography survey was challenged by the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee before the Allahabad High Court but the high court upheld the order leading to the filing of a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court.
May 14-16: The court-ordered videography survey was carried out inside the Gyanvapi Masjid complex amid tight security. A shivling was allegedly found inside the temple complex.
The Muslim counsel side alleged bias from the side of the court-appointed Commissioner of the Survey, Ajay Kumar Mishra and claimed that he tried to do videography from inside the mosque against court permission. They also called the videography survey of the masjid complex a violation of the Places of Worship Act, 1991.
May 17, 2022: The Supreme Court ordered the Varanasi district magistrate to seal off the “wazu khana” (ablution pond) area within the Gyanvapi Mosque where the alleged shivling was found but allowed Muslims to access the mosque for offering namaz.
May 17, 2022: The Varanasi civil court removed Advocate-Commissioner Ajay Kumar Mishra from the panel formed to survey the mosque.
May 19: A two-page vidography survey report was submitted in the Varanasi court, claiming that they have found a fragmented deity, debris of the temple, shape of lotus in the mosque.
May 19: The Supreme Court asks Varanasi court to not proceed with the Gyanvapi Masjid case till May 20. The apex court agreed to hear Gyanvapi mosque case on May 20, 2022.
Gyanvapi Masjid History
The Gyanvapi Masjid is located in Banaras, Uttar Pradesh. It was constructed by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1669. It is alleged that Aurangzeb ordered demolition of a temple and built a mosque in its place. As per oral accounts, Brahmin priests were allowed to reside within the mosque premises and exert priviledges over issues of Hindu pilgrimage to the site.
Muslims, however, reject the claim that Aurangzeb demolished a temple to build the mosque. There are also other arguments that claim that the Gyanvapi mosque was constructed way before Aurangzeb’s reign, claiming that there is evidence that Shah Jahan started a madrassa at the mosque in 1638-1639 CE and that the temple was demolished due to communal riots of Hindus’ doing.
Gyanvapi Masjid Photos