‘Protect ‘Shivling’ but don’t stop Namaz’: Supreme Court on claim of Shivling found in Varanasi’s Gyanvapi Mosque

Supreme Court: After it was claimed that a ‘Shivalinga’ was found at the complex of the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi, the bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud and PA Narsimha, JJ has directed that while the ‘Shivalinga’ must be protected, it shall not affect the right to offer Namaz and other religious observances.

The three prayers before the Trail Court were:

“1. Direct the C.R.P.F. Commandant to seal the Waju Khana with proper force.

2. Kindly direct the District Magistrate to restrict entire of Muslims for offering Namaz. Not more than 20 Muslims be allowed to offer Namaz.

3. Kindly stop the usage of Weju Khana with immediate effect.”

The Trail Court gave the following order:

“The DM, Varanasi is directed that the place where Shivalinga has been found should be sealed with immediate effect and entry of any person should be prohibited in the sealed area. The DM, Varanasi, Police Commissioner, Police Commissionerate, Varanasi and the C.R.P.F. Commandant, Varanasi, are directed that the individual responsibility for the protection and preservation of the place which is being sealed shall be individually upon the aforesaid officers. With regards to the place being sealed the responsibility of supervision of what is being done by the administration shall be upon the Director General of Police, Police Headquarters, Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow and Principal Secretary, U.P. Government, Lucknow.”

It was, hence, argued, before the Supreme Court that the aforementioned order was susceptible of the interpretation that the entirety of the reliefs which were sought has been allowed.

Hence, in order to obviate any dispute on the meaning and content of the order of the Trial Judge, the Court clarified,

“… the operation and ambit of the order dated 16 May 2022 shall stand restricted to the extent that the District Magistrate, Varanasi shall ensure that the area where the Shivalinga is stated to have been found, as indicated in the order, shall be duly protected.”

It was, however, made clear that the direction shall not in any manner restrain or impede the access of Muslims to the mosque or the use of the Mosque for the purpose of performing Namaz and religious observances.

[Committee of Management Anjuman Intezamia Masajid Varanasi v. Rakhi Singh, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 694, order dated 17.05.2022]


Counsels:

For Petitioner: Sr. Adv. Huzefa A. Ahmadi and Advocates Fuzail Ahmad Ayyubi, Nizamuddin Pasha, Ibad Mushtaq, Kanishka Prasad

For Respondent(s): SG Tushar Mehta, SG, Adv Gen Ajay Mishra, AAG Ardhendumauli Kumar Prasad, Sr. Adv. Garima Prashad, AAG Sharan Dev Singh Thakur, and Advocates Ruchira Goel, Barun Kumar Shinha, Pratibha Shihha, Baby Devi Bonia and Abhishek.

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