A court in Varanasi will deliver its verdict today in the case related to the inspection of the Gyanvapi mosque located next to the iconic Kashi Vishwanath temple.
The court had ordered an inspection in April this year on petitions by five Hindu women asking for year-long access to pray at a Hindu shrine behind the western wall of the Gyanvapi Mosque complex in Varanasi. The site is currently opened for prayers once a year. The women also want permission to pray to other “visible and invisible deities within the old temple complex”. The local court had earlier directed the authorities to submit a report by May 10.
The survey started last Friday but has not been fully completed because of a dispute over videography inside the mosque. The caretaker committee of the Gyanvapi mosque and its lawyers have said they are opposed to any videography inside the mosque. But the lawyers for the petitioners have claimed they had the court’s go-ahead.
The court will also decide today whether to replace the commissioner overseeing the survey and whether videography will be permitted inside the mosque.
“The role of the court-appointed commissioner is biased and there is no such order by the court to enter into the mosque,” Abhay Nath Yadav, the Lawyer for the Gyanvapi Mosque management committee told NDTV.
“In an earlier case, a civil judge has declared the mosque to be a property of Muslims. No plaintiff has sought removal of the mosque,” Mr Yadav added.
Subhash Ranjan Chaturvedi, Lawyer for women petitioners said he is hopeful the court will order a survey inside the mosque too.
“How can you decide anything without a proper survey,” Mr Chaturvedi told NDTV.
When asked if any survey inside the mosque would not be in violation of the Places of Worship Act that provides for status quo at all places of worship as per their status on Aug 15, 1947, Mr Chaturvedi said, “the places of worship act does not apply there. You are saying it’s a mosque, we can say it’s a temple. Let it be decided it is a mosque, then the act will apply.”