Gyanvapi | 'Puja Never Ceased In Vyas Tehkhana': Contends Hindu Plaintiff In HC Amid Mosque Committee's Claims Of Having Its Possession Till 1993


7 Feb 2024 8:18 AM GMT

  • Gyanvapi | Puja Never Ceased In Vyas Tehkhana: Contends Hindu Plaintiff In HC Amid Mosque Committees Claims Of Having Its Possession Till 1993

    The Hindu plaintiff in a suit concerning the Gyanvapi Mosque-Vyas Cellar/Tehkhana dispute today asserted before the Allahabad High Court that Hindu 'Puja-Path' never stopped inside the Tehkhana and it continued even after 1993 when the CRPF took possession of the same.The submission was made by Advocate Hari Shankar Jain (appearing for the Plaintiff-Shailendra Kumar Pathak Vyas) in a plea...

    The Hindu plaintiff in a suit concerning the Gyanvapi Mosque-Vyas Cellar/Tehkhana dispute today asserted before the Allahabad High Court that Hindu 'Puja-Path' never stopped inside the Tehkhana and it continued even after 1993 when the CRPF took possession of the same.

    The submission was made by Advocate Hari Shankar Jain (appearing for the Plaintiff-Shailendra Kumar Pathak Vyas) in a plea filed by the Gyanvapi Mosque committee challenging the 31st January order of the Varanasi Court permitting Hindu parties to perform puja in the southern cellar of the Gyanvapi mosque (Vyas Ji ka Tehkhana).

    "Pooja was performed inside Vyas Tehkhana daily till 1993. After 1993, though Pooja continued, but only once a year. Gyanvapi Mosque committee never objected to the same. The continuity of Pooja is there in the matter. Pooja is anyway going on in the premises every year. The Mosque committee never had any possession of the cellar, they can't object to pooja rituals." Advocate HS Jain submitted before a bench of Justice Rohit Ranjan Agrawal.

    The claim regarding the continuity of 'Puja' was made while the Court made a prima facie observation that neither the Vyas family nor the Gyanvapi Mosque Committee could prove that they were in the possession of the Vyas Tehkhana (southern cellar of the Mosque).

    The observation was made by the Single Judge while hearing the Mosque committee's objection to the Varanasi Court's January 31 order paving the way for the worshipping of Hindu deities inside the Vyas Tehkhana.

    This order was allowed in the suit filed by Plaintiff Shailendra Kumar Pathak Vyas seeking worship of Shringar Gauri and other visible and invisible deities in the cellar of Gyanvapi mosque and for the appointment of the district magistrate as the receiver of the cellar in the southern side of Mosque (aka Vyas Ji ka Tehkhana).

    Advocate HS Jain, who appeared for Pathak, also justified the January 31st order of the Varanasi District Judge by stating that his first prayer (for appointment of a receiver) was allowed on 17th Jan, however, due to some omission, the second prayer (for performance of prayers inside Vyas Tehkhana) was not allowed, so when he requested the District Judge to allow the second prayer too, he allowed the same on January 31st.

    In this regard, Jain referred to Section 152 CPC which provides for the correction of clerical arithmetical mistakes in judgments, decrees or orders or errors arising therein from any accidental slip or omission, to justify the passing of the 31st January order wherein Hindu worship rituals were allowed by directing the DM to make proper arrangements for Puja-Raga Bhoga inside the tehkhana.

    Further, Advocate HS Jain also referred to Sections 13 and 14 of The Uttar Pradesh Sri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Act, 1983 to contend that there exists a mandate for the Kashi Vishwanath Trust Board to get pooja performed and the 31st January order aligns with the mandate of the Act.

    Advancing the arguments made by Advocate HS Jain, advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain also submitted that he has placed on record various documents from the 1800s to show that the Vyas Family were in possession of the Vyas Tehkhana.

    He also submitted that Ramayana path has been going on in the cellar for so many years which shows that Vyas Family was in possession of the cellar. Lastly, he argued that the orders of 17th and 31st January are in consonance as whatever was missed in the 17th Jan order (appointment of the receiver) was pointed out to the court and the same was included in the order of 31st Jan (allowing pooja inside the Tehkhana).

    Against this backdrop of these submissions, appearing for the Mosque Committee Senior Counsel SFA Naqvi submitted that by allowing the interim application of the Plaintiff, the main suit had effectively been allowed as it granted the final relief sought in the suit. 

    He also submitted that in the impugned order of 31st January, the District Judge did not state that he was exercising his power suo moto (as per Section 152 CPC) to correct his previous order (January 17) or that he was passing the order on an application moved by the plaintiff.

    "When there is no application, how can he exercise the power? These are arguments in the air. Here, the DJ should have stated that he was taking suo moto."

    However, on this point, Justice Agrawal pointed out that before the order was passed on 31st January, the Mosque Committee was also heard, wherein it did not raise any objection at that time.

    Importantly, Senior Counsel Naqvu further contended that in 1993, when the barricading was done, the Vyas family surrendered their right to worship and that the area/southern cellar/Vyas Tehkahana being a part of the Mosque, continued to be in the possession of the Mosque committee. 

    To this, when the single judge pointed out that the Vyas family claimed that they had access to the cellar, Senior Counsel Naqvi submitted that though the Muslims never offered namaz in the Vyas Tehkhana, it was in the possession of the Committee and from 1993, it is with the CRPF.

    "The cellar was being as a storeroom, no religious rituals happened there. Baans-balliyan rakhi hain wahan. That doesn't give them any rights. It was used as a storeroom. Nothing more."

    He strongly contended that from the beginning, the Vyas Family had been seeking relief against the state government but the Mosque committee was at the receiving end.

    "The relief is sought against the state government, but they have not been made a party. Ab Suit chale na chale ab koi faaida nahin. The nature of the property has been changed. Suit file hua. Transfer kzrke apne pass mangwa liya (referring to District Judge), and order pass krdiya. The suit itself creates a divide because whatever they have stated in the suit, parties ko implead nahi kiya h. And jinke against ho skti h unko party nahi banaya h (state). Preposterous statements have been made in the plaint against the persons who have not made a party", he submitted.

    Senior Counsel Naqvi also objected to the presence of the Advocate General in the Court as it said that it was not clear as to why the Advocate General was sitting here when the state was not a party. If he is here, means there is something between the two (the Hindu plaintiff and the state).

    "He is sitting in court so people are wondering. If he is here for the law and order issue, then if the Court orders something about it, the standing counsel can communicate the order to the AG. I am establishing a nexus here," submitted Sr Counsel Naqvi.

    Importantly, during the course of the hearing, the Court suggested that since the State was a proper party to the suit, it should be impleaded as a party to the matter. He also asked the state government as to whether it stopped the plaintiff (Hindu side) in 1993 from worshipping Hindu deities inside Tehkhana. The Advocate General sought time to obtain instructions on the matter.

    Due to the paucity of time, the arguments could not conclude and hence, the matter was posted for further hearing on Monday (February 12, 2023).

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