4 Aug 2023 2:41 PM GMT
When the Supreme Court made it clear that it will not halt the survey by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in the premises of the Gyanvapi mosque at Varanasi, the lawyer of the Mosque Committee made a final request that the ASI report be kept in a sealed cover in the Court till the dispute regarding the maintainability of the suit is finally decided. The Masjid Committee's challenge to...
When the Supreme Court made it clear that it will not halt the survey by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in the premises of the Gyanvapi mosque at Varanasi, the lawyer of the Mosque Committee made a final request that the ASI report be kept in a sealed cover in the Court till the dispute regarding the maintainability of the suit is finally decided. The Masjid Committee's challenge to the Allahabad High Court's order holding the suit as maintainable is pending in a separate petition, on which the Court issued notice today and agreed to hear on a subsequent day.
Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the Committee of Anjuman Intezemia Masajid Varanasi(which manages the Gyanvapi mosque), voiced apprehensions about the irreversible prejudice which might be caused to them if the ASI report comes into the public domain before the objections are finally decided. The bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra did not find merit in the demand.
During the hearing, Ahmadi expressed concerns over the potential consequences of the ASI survey, arguing that it could reopen historical wounds and violate the spirit of the Places of Worship Act. "The process is such that you are reopening the wounds of the past. When you start a survey, you are unravelling the wounds of the past. And it is the very same thing the Places of Worship Act seeks to prohibit," Ahmadi asserted.
Addressing this concern, Justice Pardiwala suggested that the survey could be allowed to proceed, given the undertaking of the ASI that they will not excavate the site or cause damage to the structure, and the report could be kept in a sealed cover.
"Your principal argument is why undertake the survey when the suit's maintainability is questioned. This survey is going to be in the form of a report. Tomorrow, if you succeed in getting the plaint rejected, this survey will be nothing but a piece of paper. Let the survey take place because of the assurance given by Mr. Tushar Mehta(Solicitor General of India) that there is no invasive method. Let the report be given in a sealed cover," Justice Pardiwala remarked orally.
However, when Chief Justice of India dictated the order refusing to stop the ASI survey, the suggestion regarding sealed cover was not included. After the dictation of the order was over, Ahmadi made an oral request to consider keeping the report in a sealed cover.
"Just one request, your lordships had suggested that let it be kept in a sealed cover. It had fallen from Justice Pardiwala. Let it be in a sealed cover and then it may abide by the decision of this court in my Order VII Rule 11 suit. That is a very reasonable thing", he submitted.
However, the bench did not seem too inclined to do that. To Ahmadi's request, Justice Pardiwala said–
"In our mind, what has fallen from my lord the Chief Justice, it should protect the interests of both the sides."
Expressing a degree of scepticism, Ahmadi said–
"I am sanguine on that hope. But my lords, history has taught us something else. History has taught us something else on 6th of December"
CJI then cut him short, "Alright now we'll close it."
Ahmadi concluded by saying–
"There is also a reason why there is some amount of suspicion and lack of trust at each and every stage."