Supreme Court: While hearing a petition filed by the Committee of Management Anjuman Intezamia Masajid, Varanasi (‘petitioners’) against the Varanasi Court’s Order for directing the Director of the Archaeological Survey of India (‘ASI’) to conduct a scientific survey of the Gyanvapi Mosque premises, a three Judge Bench comprising of the Chief Justice of India, Dr. DY Chandrachud, JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, JJ., allowed the petition and directed that the Varanasi Court’s order should not be enforced till 5 P.M. on 26-07-2023.
In the matter at hand, the Varanasi District Court had allowed an application of the four Hindu females who were seeking directions for the Director, ASI to undertake scientific survey/ investigation/ excavation of the Gyanvapi Mosque, excluding the areas sealed by the Supreme Court. The Varanasi Court had given a slew of direction to the Director, ASI, including the direction to undertake scientific survey/ investigation/ excavation of the premises, and a detailed scientific investigation using GPR Survey, Excavation, Dating and other methods to find out whether the same was constructed over a pre-existing structure of Hindu Temple.
Aggrieved by the said order of the District Court, the petitioners approached the Court. The Court allowed the Committee’s petition and allowed them to move Allahabad High Court against the Varanasi Court’s Order.
The Court noted that the ASI was not contemplating any excavation until 31-07-2023 in pursuance of the impugned order of the District Court though it was specifically permitted by the District Court to do so. Therefore, considering the fact that the order of the District Court was pronounced at 04:30 pm on 21-07-2023 and the survey was in the process of being carried out on 24-07-2023, the Court viewed that some ‘breathing time’ must be granted to the petitioners to move the High Court with a petition/application under Article 227 of the Constitution for pursuing their remedies and challenge the order of the District Judge, Varanasi. Further, the Court directed that the impugned order of the District Court shall not be enforced until 5:00 pm on 26-07-2023. The Court also clarified that it did not express its opinion on the merits.
The Court also directed the Registrar (Judicial) of the High Court to ensure that the application/petition of the petitioners shall be placed before the appropriate Court according to the roster so that it can be heard before the order of status quo comes to an end, which was granted by the Court on 24-07-2023.
[COMMITTEE OF MANAGEMENT ANJUMAN INTEZAMIA MASAJID VARANASI v. RAKHI SINGH, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 880, Order dated: 24-07-2023]