Gyanvapi case: Court retains official, survey to be completed by May 17

VARANASI A court in Varanasi on Thursday rejected a plea to replace the advocate commissioner appointed for conducting a videography survey of the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri complex here and ordered the completion of the task by May 17.

The court also appointed two more lawyers – a senior advocate as a special advocate commissioner and another as assistant advocate commissioner – to help the advocate commissioner carry out the survey at the mosque.

The court of civil judge (senior division) Ravi Kumar Diwakar pronounced the order a day after the hearing on the petition seeking the removal of court-appointed advocate commissioner entrusted with carrying out the survey had concluded.

The Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, which manages the Gyanvapi Mosque, had on May 7 filed the petition to remove advocate commissioner Ajai Kumar Mishra, alleging that he was biased.

“The court has ordered complete survey of the Gyanvapi complex and its basement and present a detailed report on May 17, the next date of hearing in the case,” said Subhash Nandan Chaturvedi, one of the lawyers of the petitioners.

The court said that the district administration will not try to postpone the proceedings of the commission by making any sort of excuse, added Chaturvedi. The survey was likely to begin day after tomorrow.

“The court has ordered the survey of the entire Gyanvapi complex. The survey of Gyanvapi complex and its basement will be conducted,” the lawyer said.

“The Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee had filed the petition seeking removal of advocate commissioner Ajay Kumar Mishra. The court heard the arguments of the advocates of the Masjid committee and their objections against advocate commissioner Ajai Kumar Mishra. It rejected all the objections filed by the lawyers of the Masjid committee against advocate commissioner Mishra,” said Chaturvedi.

“The court has decided not to change advocate commissioner Ajai Kumar Mishra,” Chaturvedi said and added that the court has appointed another lawyer, Vishal Kumar Singh, as the special advocate commissioner and Ajai Pratap Singh as the assistant advocate commissioner.

It ordered that advocate commissioner Ajai Kumar Mishra and special advocate commissioner Vishal Singh will jointly conduct the proceedings of the commission – that is survey. In case Mishra is absent, Vishal Singh will carry out the proceedings to conduct the survey. If Singh is absent, Ajai Mishra will do it.

Chaturvedi said that action would be taken if anyone tries to create hurdle in conducting the survey.

Abhay Nath Yadav, one of the advocates of the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, said he was not satisfied with the order but added he had high respect for the court.

“I have just received the copy of the order. I will go through the order thoroughly. I just superficially saw the order. We are not satisfied with it. We will discuss our strategy with advocates part of the panel and find a legal remedy against the order. Then we will challenge it,” said Yadav.

Yadav claimed that petitioners seeking permission for daily worship at Maa Shringar Gauri Sthal and Gyanvapi Mosque is separate.

In their plea, the petitioners said that Maa Shringar Gauri Sthal is located outside the western wall of the mosque.

“This is what I said. Then what is the justification of the survey? Yadav asked.

Court-appointed special advocate commissioner Vishal Singh said, “First of all, we (three advocate commissioners) will hold a meeting in which we will take decision to start the proceedings of the survey.”

The proceedings of the survey will be conducted as per court order, Singh said.

Asked when the advocate commissioners were likely to start the survey, he said, it will be decided in the meeting.

CASE AT A GLANCE

August 18, 2021: Five women, including Rakhi Singh of Delhi, Manju Vyas, Sita Sahu and two others of Varanasi, filed a petition in the court of civil judge (senior division) Ravi Kumar Diwakar, seeking daily worship of Maa Shringar Gauri in Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi complex.

At Shringar Gauri Sthal, devotees are allowed to offer prayers once in a year – that is on the fourth day of Navratra of Chaitra.

April 8, 2022: Court appointed Ajai Kumar as advocate commissioner and asked him to do a survey of Maa Shringar Gauri sthal in KV-Gyanvapi complex.

April 26, 2022: The court of civil judge (senior division) Ravi Kumar Diwakar ordered advocate commissioner Ajai Kumar to do a survey of Maa Shringar Gauri sthal in KV-Gyanvapi complex in the presence of all parties: The petitioners, UP state and Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee after May 3 on any date and submit a detailed report before the court.

The survey includes inspection and videography.

MAY 6 Advocate commissioner Ajai Kumar, in presence of all parties, conducted the survey. Advocates of Anjuman Masjid Committee said they are not satisfied with the survey as advocate commissioner is biased.

MAY 7: The Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee filed a petition seeking removal of advocate commissioner. They said that order is for survey of in and around Maa Shringar Gauri Sthal, while advocate commissioner wants to do survey and videography of Gyanvapi mosque. The court heard the matter and directed the advocate commissioner and advocates of the petitioners to present their side in the court on May 9.

MAY 9: Advocates of the petitioners filed an objection in the court, hearing began.

MAY 10: Court heard both the sides who argued in favour of their respective stand. Advocates of the Masjid committee argued in favour of removing the advocate commissioner, while petitioners’ advocates said that survey be conducted, no need to change advocate commissioner

MAY 11: Hearing concluded in the court as all the sides argued in favour of their stand.

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