The Supreme Court on July 24 has ordered the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to suspend any "detailed scientific survey" on the Gyanvapi mosque premises in Varanasi until July 26. The court also directed the Muslim petitioners to seek remedies from the Allahabad High Court.
The order comes after the mosque management committee filed a plea, seeking a stay on the Varanasi district court's decision to conduct an ASI survey of the mosque, with the aim of determining if it was constructed atop a pre-existing temple.
Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud, heading the bench, stated that the court provided the Gyanvapi mosque management committee some "breathing time" to challenge the ASI order issued by the Varanasi court at the Allahabad High Court.
The Supreme Court instructed Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Uttar Pradesh government, to communicate its order to the ASI, which had deployed a 30-member team to commence the survey on the mosque premises.
Senior counsel Huzefa Ahmadi, representing the Gyanvapi mosque management committee, urged for a stay on the district court's order regarding the ASI survey.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta conveyed that the ASI was conducting non-invasive activities like photography and radar-imaging at the site, and no excavation work was underway presently.
CJI DY Chandrachud proposed, "Let there be no invasive work carried out" to maintain the status quo.
On July 21, district judge AK Vishvesh directed the ASI to submit a report to the court by August 4, along with videos and photographs of the survey proceedings.
Notably, the mosque's wazukhana, a spot claimed by Hindu petitioners to house a shivling, will be excluded from the survey in compliance with a prior Supreme Court order safeguarding that specific area within the complex.
The mosque management committee contended that the recent Varanasi district court's order permitting the ASI survey is in clear violation of the Supreme Court's earlier May order, which had deferred the survey of the alleged shivling.
Sources indicate that the Muslim petitioners are preparing to move the Allahabad High Court today to challenge the district court's ASI order.
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