As many as seven suits lie pending on the issue. The main suit among these seeks a decree declaring that the plaintiffs are entitled to perform Hindu religious rituals for the ‘visible and invisible deities’ allegedly present within the mosque premises.
ON Tuesday, a Varanasi court decided to club together all the suits concerning the Gyanvapi mosque, located next to the Kashi-Vishwanath temple. All the suits will now be heard by the Varanasi district court. As many as seven suits are lying pending on the issue.
Allowing the applications seeking clubbing together of all the suits, district judge Ajaya Krishna Vishvesha observed that it would be expedient in the interest of justice that all the suits are tried together.
On November 11, 2022, the Supreme Court had observed in an Order that, “In the event that a similar application is made before the district judge, Varanasi in respect of similar suits, it would be open to the district judge to determine as to whether consolidation of those suits is also warranted.” In support of his decision, judge Vishvesha cited this Supreme Court Order.
The main suit filed by five plaintiffs seeks a decree declaring that they are entitled to darshan, pooja and performance of all rituals of Ma Srinigar Gauri, Lord Ganesh, Lord Hanuman and other visible and invisible deities allegedly within the premises situated at settlement plot no. 9130, that is the Gyanvapi mosque, in the area of ward and police station Dashwamedh in the Varanasi district.
On May 17 last year, the Supreme Court had refused to interfere with the Varanasi court’s order that directed the protection of the Shivling claimed to have been found in the premises of the Gyanvapi mosque. It had, however, modified other parts of the lower court’s order and directed that the protection of the Shivling shall not impede the access of Muslims to the mosque for prayers or any other religious activities.
On May 20, 2022, the Supreme Court had transferred the suit concerning the Gyanvapi mosque from a civil judge to the Varanasi district court. The court was of the view that given the sensitivity of the matter, it should be heard by a senior and experienced judicial officer of Uttar Pradesh Higher Judicial Service.
Subsequently, on September 12, 2022, the district court had ruled that the suit filed by five women demanding the right to pray inside the Gyanvapi mosque compound was maintainable, allowing the court to hear the case and decide it.
Last week, a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dr D.Y. Chandrachud and Justices P.S. Narasimha and K.V. Viswanathan, deferred an Archeological Survey of India-led scientific investigation of the alleged Shivling, which was found during a survey on the premises of the Gyanvapi mosque last year.