Citing ‘complexity, sensitivity’, SC transfers Gyanvapi case to higher judge
New Delhi: The Supreme Court transferred the Gyanvapi Mosque case to a district judge, observing that due to the complexity and sensitivity of the civil suit, it was best tried before a “court officer superior and experienced.
Five female Hindu plaintiffs had moved a Varanasi Magistrate’s Court alleging that the city’s Gyanvapi Mosque is home to Hindu deities and that Hindus should be allowed to pray at the site.
In April, the Varanasi court had appointed a court commissioner to conduct an investigation and record a video on the site. The mosque committee challenged this order in the Allahabad High Court, but it was rejected the same month. The committee’s plea that the tribunal commissioner was biased was also rejected.
On May 16, the plaintiff told the court in Varanasi that a “shudder” had been found in the premises of the mosque, following which Civil Judge (Main Division) Ravi Kumar Diwakar ordered that the area where he was found be sealed.
A day later, however, the Supreme Court ordered that the area where the “shivling” was found be protected but without preventing access by Muslim worshippers.
On Friday, a Supreme Court comprised of Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant and PS Narasimha ordered that this above interim order stand until a district judge rules on a request filed by the masjid committee for dismissal. of the prosecution and for eight weeks after that.
The Supreme Court also ordered the relevant district magistrate to arrange for Muslims to observe wuzu on the site called into question by the claim of the petitioners.
Live right quoted the Supreme Court bench as saying:
“In a rather complex and sensitive matter, we are of the opinion that the prosecution should be heard by a district judge. We do not slander the trial judge. But in a case like this, a more seasoned hand is preferable This will protect the interests of all parties…they know how to do it.
The civil suit before Varanasi Civil Judge (Main Division), Ravi Kumar Diwakar, will now be transferred to Varanasi District Judge Varanasi.
The same judge will rule, “in priority”, on the request of the mosque committee filed under Ordinance 7, Rule 11.
In the application, the Gyanvapi Mosque Committee had requested that the suit be declared void in light of the Places of Worship Act 1991. The law states that the character of a place of worship as it was at the time of India’s independence cannot be changed by the courts.
“Ascertainment of the religious character is not prohibited…A finding of the religious character of a place as a procedural instrument cannot fall within the scope of section 3 or 4. These are questions on which we will not risk not to express an opinion in our order. We are in a dialogue…”, said Judge Chandracud, on the law of 1991.
“Suppose there is an aghyari [a Parsi temple]. And there is a cross. Doesn’t the presence of crosses make the place an aghyari? Does the presence of crosses make it a Christian place? Such a hybrid nature is not unheard of in India,” he added.
To run away
In court today, lead lawyer Huzefa Ahmadi, a lawyer for the Masjid committee, said that if the proceedings continue in the magistrate’s court, there could be “serious wrongdoing”.
The court also took a dim view of the leak of information about the discovery of the ‘shivling’ in the media – about which commissioner-advocate Ajay Kumar Mishra, who headed the panel appointed by the trial court, was removed from his post.
“We must tell the other side that selective leaks must stop. It must be submitted to court. Do not divulge anything to the press. You must report to the judge,” Judge Chandrachud said.