Sunday, December 3, 2023

SC refuses to stop ASI survey at Gyanvapi Masjid, asks ASI to follow “non-invasive” process

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The Supreme Court on Friday refused to stop the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to survey the Gyanvapi Mosque at Varanasi, while disposing of a petition filed by Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee (which manages the Gyanvapi Mosque at Varanasi) challenging yesterday’s Allahabad High Court order which permitted the ASI survey.

Taking on record an undertaking made on behalf of the ASI that no excavation will be done at the site and no damage will be caused to the structure, the Court allowed the survey to take place, Live Law reported.

“It is clarified on behalf of the ASI by Solicitor General of India Mr. Tushar Mehta that as a matter of fact, the entire survey will be completed without any excavation at the site and without causing any destruction to the structure”, recorded the order passed by the bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra.

The top court noted that the evidentiary value of the scientific commission is open to be tested in the suit and is open to objections, including cross-examination. Hence, a report of the commissioner, by itself, does not amount to a determination of the matters in dispute, Live Law reported.

“Having regard to the nature and ambit of a Court-appointed commissioners, we are unable to differ with the view of the High Court, particularly in the jurisdiction under Article 136”, the apex court observed.

The Court further directed that the ASI survey should be carried out through “non-invasive” processes.

According to Live Law, The bench was considering two Special Leave Petitions(SLP) filed by the Masjid Committee -one filed against an order of the High Court dismissing their petition filed under Order 11 Rule 11 CPC to reject the plaint as barred by the Places of Worship; two, petition filed against the order allowing ASI survey of the structure.

The mosque believed to be built during the Mughal rule is adjacent to Varanasi’s Kashi Vishwanath temple. The centuries-old mosque, is a target of Hindu nationalist groups after Babri Masjid which was demolished by Hindutva groups.

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