The Allahabad High Court has dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) plea seeking the appointment of a committee/commission headed by a judge of the high court or supreme court (present/retired) to study the nature of the structure found in the Gyanvapi campus.
The PIL plea had also sought a direction to the panel to ascertain whether a Shiva linga, as claimed by the Hindus had been found inside the mosque or if it is a fountain as being claimed by a few of the Muslims.
Dismissing the plea, the bench of Justice Rajesh Singh Chauhan and Justice Subhash Vidyarthi observed that the petition had been filed merely in order to gain some publicity and therefore, such a plea required to be nipped in the bud by dismissing the same at the admission stage itself.
The writ petition had been filed by Advocate Ashok Pande on behalf of five residents of Varanasi namely Sarve Sri Sudhir Singh, Baba Balak Das, Shivendra Pratap Singh, Markande Tiwari, and Rajan Rai and two Advocates practicing in the high court at Lucknow namely Sri Ravi Mishra and Sri Atul Kumar.
Read more about the plea here: "Appoint Committee To Ascertain The Nature Of Structure Found Inside Gyanvapi Mosque": 7 Hindu Devotees Move Allahabad HC
Observations made by the Court
At the outset, the Court noted that several Suits are pending in the Civil Court at Varanasi regarding the structures existing in Gyanvapi Parisar, Varanasi and, therefore, the instant Writ Petition concerning the same subject matter was not liable to be entertained by the High Court.
The Court made this observation in view of the submission made by the Chief Standing Counsel informing the High Court that at least 5 regular suits have been filed in the Court of Civil Judge (Senior Division) at Varanasi in connection with the Gyanvapi Mosque dispute claiming different reliefs.
Further, the Court noted that allegedly a Shivlinga had been found during the local inspection of the site by the Commissioner appointed by the Court, however, when this claim was being disputed by the other side, then, the Supreme Court had directed that the aforesaid Civil Suit be transferred to the Court of the District Judge, Varanasi, for trial and all interlocutory and ancillary proceedings in the suit.
Consequently, declining to entertain the writ plea, the Court observed thus:
"Keeping into consideration the aforesaid facts, we are of the considered opinion that it is not proper on the part of the petitioners to invoke the jurisdiction of the High Court by filing a Public Interest Litigation seeking a relief regarding the subject matter, which is already the subject matter of the pending suits as also of the aforesaid Special Leave Petition. For the aforesaid reason, we decline to entertain the Writ Petition."
The Court also held that the Court sitting at Lucknow has no territorial jurisdiction to entertain the writ petition filed at Lucknow regarding the subject matter situated at Varanasi since it does not fall under the Oudh region.
Lastly, the Court also stressed that the Writ Petition had not been filed on the ground of violation of any Fundamental right or any statutory right of the public at large, which may warrant the issuance of a Writ Petition.
In view of the aforesaid discussion, the Writ Petition is dismissed.
Case title - Sudhir Singh And 6 Others v. Union Of Bharat Thru Its Cabinet Secy. South Block New Delhi And 3 Others [PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION (PIL) No. - 350 of 2022]
Case citation: 2022 LiveLaw (AB) 328