Friday, March 1, 2024

“Can’t call Gyanvapi complex temple or mosque unless court determines…”: Mosque body’s petitions rejected by HC

Allahabad High Court on Tuesday rejected all petitions by the Gyanvapi mosque committee challenging civil suits that seek restoration of a temple at the site of the historic mosque.

The high court asked the Varanasi court to complete hearing in one of these civil suits, filed in 1991, within six months.

A bench of Justice Rohit Ranjan Agrawal today said that the religious character of the Gyanvapi Complex (as it existed on August 15, 1947) is to be determined by the Varanasi Civil Court in light of documentary as well as oral evidence led by both parties and hence, unless and until the court adjudicates upon this issue, the same cannot be called either as a temple or a mosque, Live Law reported.

The HC observed thus while holding that a batch of civil suits (primarily year 1991 suit) pending before the Varanasi Civil Court filed by Hindu worshippers and deity seeking the right to worship in the Gyanvapi mosque and the restoration of the temple at the disputed place (Gyanvapi Complex) are not barred by the Places of Worship Act 1991, the legal website reported.

“As ‘religious character’ has not been defined under the Act, and the place cannot have a dual religious character at the same time, one of a temple or of a mosque, which are adverse to each other. Either the place is a temple or a mosque. 164. The evidence of the entire Gyanvapi compound detailed in Schedule B of the plaint is necessary to be taken while determining religious character. The revisional court had rightly proceeded to hold that Section 4 of the Act of 1991 [Declaration as to the religious character of certain places of worship and bar of jurisdiction of courts, etc] is not applicable in the instant case as the religious character of the place in dispute has to be determined,” the court observed.

The Hindu nationalists have been campaigning that the historic mosque was built on the site of the original Kashi Vishwanath temple, while Muslims maintain that the mosque was built on Waqf premises, and that the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 barred changing the character of any place of worship as it existed on August 15, 1947.

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