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Gyanvapi Mosque Survey Videos, Pics Not To Be Made Public Without Court's Permission: Varanasi Court

Sparsh Upadhyay
31 May 2022 7:14 AM GMT
Gyanvapi, Gyanvapi Mosque, Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, Hindu Worshippers, Carbon Dating, shiva linga, Varanasi Court, Notice, Masjid Committee, District Judge AK Vishvesha, Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991,

The Varanasi Court yesterday allowed the parties to the ongoing Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi Mosque dispute to get the copies of the videos and photographs taken by the Court-appointed survey commission. The Survey report, videos, and pictures were submitted in court on May 19.

The Court's May 30 order came with a caveat that in view of the sensitivity of the case, the videos and photographs shall be used by the parties to the dispute only for filing objections against the commissioner's report and without the permission of the court, photographs and videography will not be made public.

The Court had also made it clear that the parties in the suit only shall be provided with copies of videography and photography and the parties will also have to submit an undertaking/undertaking that it shall not be shared publically, or for unauthorized use without Court's permission.

This order had come on an application moved by the 5 Hindu women worshippers/Plaintiffs seeking copies of the commission's videography and photography. However, the Masjid Committee had opposed the demand to make the videos public.

Significantly, the Plaintiffs were handed over the video CDs yesterday, after they had given an undertaking that they shall not make it public sans court's permissions. However, shortly after submitting the report, the videos and images got leaked and the survey videos went viral. Many media portals displayed the contents of the survey videography on their news channel.

In related news, the Varanasi District Court yesterday heard the Order 7 Rule 11 CPC application filed by the defendants (including the Anjuman Islamia committee) questioning the maintainability of the suit filed by five Hindu women (plaintiffs) over the Gyanvapi Mosque-Kashi Vishwanath temple dispute seeking a right to worship the Hindu deities inside the masjid premises.

District Judge Dr. Ajay Krishna Vishwesha has posted the matter for the next hearing on July 4.

Earlier, on May 24, the Court had decided to hear the Order 7 Rule 11 CPC application in consonance with the directions of the Supreme Court issued on May 20 wherein it was said that Order 7 Rule 11 CPC application filed by the Anjuman Islamia committee over the maintainability of the suit be decided on priority.

The Court of Civil Judge Senior Division had last month ordered an inspection of the premises on petitions moved by five Hindu women asking for year-long access to pray at a Hindu shrine behind the western wall of the Gyanvapi Mosque complex in Varanasi.

The plaintiffs claim that the present Mosque premises was once a Hindu temple and it was demolished by Mughal Ruler Aurangzeb thereafter, the present mosque structure was built there.

On the other hand, the Anjuman Masjid committee has argued in its objection and order 7 rule 11 application that the suit is specifically barred by the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991.

Yesterday, before the Court, the Plaintiffs argued that the Order 7 Rule 11 CPC application should not be heard in isolation & should be considered along with the Commission Report. They relied on Order 26 Rule 10 CPC.

Plaintiffs also argued that they should be provided with the CD, report, and pictures of the survey of the Gyanvapi Mosque. However, the Masjid committee argued that their application under O7R11 CPC must be heard first and that too, in isolation.

The background of the Case

The local court [presided by Varanasi civil judge (senior division) Ravi Kumar Diwakar] had earlier appointed a survey commission to submit a report by visiting the mosque. The Court had received the survey report on May 19.

However, even before the submission of the survey report, the Court, on a submission made by the court-appointed Advocate Commissioner that it had found Shiva Linga inside the Gyanvapi Mosque premises during the survey, had ordered to seal the spot.

"The District Magistrate, Varanasi is ordered to immediately seal the place where the Shiva linga is found and the entry of any person is prohibited in the sealed place," the court had ordered.

Meanwhile, a petition was filed by the Masjid Committee before the Supreme Court challenging the survey ordered by the Varanasi court. Hearing the plea on May 17, the Supreme Court had clarified that the order passed by the Civil Judge Senior Division at Varanasi to protect the spot where a "shiv ling" was claimed to have been found during the survey of the Gyanvapi mosque will not restrict the right of Muslims to access the mosque to offer namaz and to perform religious observances.

Further, on May 20, the Supreme Court had transferred the suit filed by Hindu devotees in connection with the Gyanvapi Mosque-Kashi Vishwanath Temple dispute, to the District Court in Varanasi.

The Supreme Court also ordered that the application filed by the Committee of Management Anjuman Intezamia Masjid (which manages Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi) before the trial court under Order 7 Rule 11 CPC for rejection of the suit as being barred in law, shall be decided on priority by the District Judge.

Meanwhile, it was also ordered that its interim order dated May 17 shall continue in operation till the application is decided and for a period of 8 weeks thereafter. Further, the concerned District Magistrate was directed to make proper arrangements for observance of wuzu.

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