May 26, 2024

E Ex Desk: In a major turn of events, the Allahabad High Court, on Tuesday, dismissed a batch of petitions challenging the maintainability of a civil suit of 1991 pertaining to the Kashi Vishwanath temple-Gyanvapi land title dispute. The single-judge High Court bench comprising, Justice Rohit Ranjan Agarwal, held that the title suits filed by the Hindu plaintiffs and pending before the Varanasi trial court were maintainable and not barred by the Places of Worship Act-1991.

It may be recalled that in October 1991, the civil suit was filed by Hindu worshippers before a Varanasi trial court on behalf of the ancient idol of Swayambhu Jyotirlinga Bhagwan Vishweshwar (Lord Shiva) and five others demanding the restoration of the ancient temple at the disputed site currently occupied by the Gyanvapi mosque.

The petitioners contend that the mosque was a part of the temple. The petitioners had also sought the removal of Muslims from the complex area, and the demolition of the mosque. In 1998, Anjuman Intezamia Masajid (AIM), the mosque management committee, and UP Sunni Central Waqf Board had challenged in the High Court the maintainability of a total of five suits pertaining to Gyanvapi title dispute saying they were barred by the Places of Worship Act-1991.EMENT

However, on Tuesday, dismissing the petitions filed by AIM and UP Sunni Central Waqf Board challenging a total of five suits pertaining to the Gyanvapi title dispute, Justice Rohit Ranjan Agarwal held that the batch of petitions, including those of the 1991 civil suit filed by Hindu worshippers seeking the right to worship on Gyanvapi mosque premises and also the Varanasi Court’s ASI survey order of April 2021, was not barred by the Places of Worship Act 1991.

Justice Agarwal further added that the mosque premises could have either a Muslim character or a Hindu character and the same cannot be decided at the stage of framing issues.

“As the suit affects two major communities of the country… We direct the trial court of Varanasi to decide the suit expeditiously in six months,” said the court.

“No unnecessary adjournment shall be granted to any of the parties,” added the court. Significantly, the High Court further directed that the interim order, if any, be vacated. Besides, the court also directed that the ASI survey conducted in one suit shall also be filed in the other pertaining suits and if the lower court feels that a survey of any part is necessary, the court may direct ASI to conduct it.

Earlier, on December 8, 2023, the High Court had reserved its order on all petitions of the Muslim side challenging the maintainability of the batch of title suits pending before a Varanasi court seeking restoration of the temple at the site where the Gyanvapi mosque exists.

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