Varanasi Court Orders Archaeological Survey of India to Examine Gyanvapi Complex | India News
The order came just over a year after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya, saying that there will be a Ram Mandir at the disputed site and that Muslims will be given an alternative 5-acre piece of land for their mosque.
In its order on Thursday, the civil judge’s court (upper division), fast track, Ashutosh Tiwari, directed the director general of ASI to constitute a five-member committee of eminent persons who are experts and well versed in the science of archeology. two of which should preferably belong to the minority community.
In its order, the court also ordered the Director General to appoint an eminent and highly experienced person, who can be considered an expert in the science of archeology, to act as an observer. “Such a person should preferably be an academic personality and an established scholar from any central university,” he said.
The five-member committee will present the observer with a daily report of its survey work.
The court further said that “the committee will prepare full documentation along with the drawing, plan, elevation, site map with the precise breadth and width of the disputed site, marked with hatched lines on the complaint map.”
“The purpose of the archaeological study will be to find out if the religious structure found at the current and disputed site is an overlap, alteration or addition or if there is a structural overlap of any kind. If so, then what exactly is the age, size, monumental and architectural design or style of the religious structure, and what material has been used to build it, ”the court said.
For that purpose, the committee will have the right to enter every part of the religious structure, the order said.
The committee will first turn to ground penetrating radar or a geo-radiology system or both to make sure if any excavation or extraction work is needed somewhere. Excavation should be done by the very small scale vertically test trench method, and horizontal excavation should be done only when the committee is fully satisfied that it can reach a more concrete conclusion regarding the archaeological remains below ground.
Lawyer Vijay Shankar Rastogi, as Swayambhu Jyotirlinga’s “next friend” Bhagwan Vishweshwar, had submitted an application to the civil court in December 2019 requesting an inspection of the entire Gyanvapi complex by ASI. He also demanded that the Hindus restore the land on which the mosque stood, claiming that the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb had torn down parts of the ancient Kashi Vishwanath temple to build it.
In January 2020, the defendant Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee filed an objection against the petition.
The first petition was filed in the civil court of Varanasi in 1991, requesting permission for worship in Gyanvapi. The petitioner had claimed that the temple was built by Maharaja Vikramaditya some 2,050 years ago, but Aurangzeb destroyed it in 1664 and used its remains to build a mosque, known as the Gyanvapi masjid, on a part of the temple grounds.
The petitioner had asked the court to issue instructions to remove the mosque from the temple grounds and return its possession to the temple trust. The petition held that the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act did not apply to the lawsuit, as the mosque was built on top of a partially demolished temple and many parts of the temple exist even today.
In 1998, the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee moved to the higher court claiming that the mandir-masjid dispute could not be resolved by a civil court as it was prohibited by law. Then the higher court suspended the proceedings in the lower court. In February 2020, the petitioners again went to the lower court to resume the hearing, as the HC had not extended the suspension in the last six months.