Gyanvapi Mosque Case: As Varanasi court hears Muslim side's arguments today, a 1942 Allahabad HC ruling is on focus
A Varanasi court will resume today hearing arguments of Anjuman Intezamia Masjid, challenging maintainability of a plea by five Hindu women seeking permission for daily worship of the Shringar Gauri Sthal within the Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi complex.
On May 30, district judge AK Vishvesh had posted the matter for further hearing on July 4. Back then, the Muslim side had urged the court to dismiss the petition, saying the women’s suit filed in “individual capacity” could not apply to their “prayer for all Hindus and Hindu religion followers”.
While flagging what it called the “wrong rule” under which the suit had been filed, it also claimed that the petitioners did not provide details of a 1936 ruling on the Muslim right to offer namaz at the mosque.
The focus of today’s hearing is expected to be a 1942 ruling of the Allahabad High Court that dealt with the ownership of the mosque and the land surrounding it.
Both parties in the suit rely on the ruling in Din Mohammad and Other versus Secretary of State to support their claims.
It was an appeal by three “Hanafi or Sunni Musalmans” against a 1937 ruling of the Varanasi District Court seeking a declaration from the Court that apart from the mosque itself, the area around the mosque is also property of the Waqf.
While the Hindu side quotes the ruling to support a historical claim that questions the ownership of the Gyanvapi mosque, the ruling suggests otherwise.
The Allahabad HC agreed with the civil judge that the mosque itself is Waqf property, but said the area around the mosque where the namazis (the faithful) would “spill over” during prayers on the last Friday of Ramzan could not be claimed as Waqf property.
Earlier, the Supreme Court on May 20 transferred the civil suit filed by Hindu devotees on Gyanvapi mosque from civil judge (senior division) to district judge of Varanasi, citing complexities and sensitivity of the case and saying it is better for a senior judicial officer to handle it.
The apex court said that its earlier interim order of May 17 directing protection of the area where “shiv ling" is said to be found and allowing Muslims to offer "namaz" in mosque premises shall remain in operation till the maintainability of the suit is decided by the district judge and thereafter for eight weeks to allow the aggrieved parties to approach the higher court.