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SC Transfers Gyanvapi Mosque Case To District Judge Varanasi

New Delhi [India: In view of the complexity of matter, the Supreme Court on Friday ordered the transfer of the Gyanvapi mosque case from the civil judge to the district judge, Varanasi.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant and PS Narasimha ordered that a “senior and experienced” judicial officer of Uttar Pradesh Higher Judicial Service should examine the case.

The bench said District Judge should decide the maintainability of the civil suit in the Gyanvapi-Kashi Vishwanath on priority as sought by Committee of Management Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Varanasi.

“Having regard to the sensitivity of this civil suit, this case before the civil judge Varanasi shall stand transferred and be heard by a senior and experienced judicial officer of UP Judicial services. Thus the case was transferred from Civil Judge (senior division), Varanasi to District Judge, Varanasi. The application filed by the plaintiff under Order 7 Rule 11 CPC shall be decided on priority by the District Judge on the transfer of suit,” the bench ordered.

It further ordered that its interim order passed on May 17 — to protect the area where the Shivling was found and access to Muslims for namaz — shall continue in operation till the maintainability of the suit is decided and thereafter for eight weeks to enable parties to pursue legal remedies.

It further asked the District Magistrate Varanasi to make alternate arrangements for Wazu after consulting the parties.

It has now posted the matter for hearing in July second week.

The apex court was hearing a plea Anjuman Intezamia Masajid Committee against the Varanasi district court order which directed a videographic survey of the Gyanvapi Mosque complex, adjacent to the famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi.

During the hearing, the bench suggested that the Gyanvapi mosque case should be heard by District Judge in Varanasi.

“A slightly more seasoned and mature hand should hear this case. We are not making aspersion on the trial judge. But more seasoned hand should deal with this case and it will benefit all the parties,” said the bench.

Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi for Masjid Committee told the apex court that all the orders passed by the trial court from the beginning are capable of creating great public mischief.

Ahmadi said Committee’s challenge is to the trial court’s order appointing Commission itself, it is prohibited by the 1991 Worship Act and the Constitution itself.

“The Act says such controversies will create great public mischief. Commission report is being selectively leaked. The plaintiff before the trial court are succeeding in getting a place sealed which was being used by this part for the next 500 years. You have to see how this case is being used for 4 or 5 mosques across the country. This will create public mischief which the 1991 Places of Worship Act wanted to avoid,” he added.

The bench said these are complex social problems and no solution by the human being can be perfect.

“Our order is to maintain a certain degree of peace and calm and our interim orders calms some frayed nerves with some healing touch. We are on a joint mission on preserving a sense of unification in the country,” Justice Chandrachud said.

The apex court further said that once the Commission’s report is there, there cannot be selective leaks. “Do not leak things to the press, only judge opens the report,” it added after Ahmadi objected to leakage of the report.

Ahmadi also said that what was found inside was not a Shivling as per us, it is a fountain.

Wazukhana is sealed and iron gates are placed with heavy police presence, he added.

The apex court also remarked that ascertainment of religious character of a Place of Worship is not barred under the Places of Worship Act.

“Ascertainment of religious character is not barred under Section 3 of the 1991 Places of Worship Act. Forget there is mosque on one side and temple on other side. Suppose there is a Parsi temple and there is a cross in the corner of the area. Does the presence of Agyari make the cross Agyari or Agyari christian. This hybrid character is not unknown,” Justice Chandrachud remarked.

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