Madhya Pradesh High Court

Madhya Pradesh High Court: In an application filed by the petitioner seeking permission to be present during a survey conducted by the respondent 2/Archeological Survey of India (ASI), a division bench comprising of S. A. Dharmadhikari and Gajendra Singh, JJ., rejected the petitioner’s application, citing that it lacked merit and was an afterthought following the Court’s previous order.

In the instant matter, the Court in Hindu Front for Justice v. Union of India, 2024 SCC OnLine MP 1634, filed by Hindu Front for Justice entertained a specific interlocutory application seeking the issuance of directions to the Director, ASI in terms of Section 75(e) and Order 26 Rule 10A of the CPC. The Bhojshala, is an 11th-century monument protected by the ASI. Hindus consider it a temple dedicated to Vagdevi (Goddess Saraswati), on the other hand, Muslims regard it as the Kamal Maula Mosque. It was claimed that the Bhojshala complex with the Vagdevi temple pre-existed the Kamal Maula Mosque hundreds of years before it. Hindus perform puja at the Bhojshala complex on Tuesdays, while Muslims offer namaz there on Fridays as per a 2003 agreement, The Court held that it is “Constitutional as well as statutory obligation of the ASI to have a scientific survey, study convened at the earliest of the Bhojshala Temple cum Kamal Maula Mosque” and directed ASI survey of the complex. The Court opined that “the nature and character of the whole monument admittedly maintained by the Central Government needs to be demystified and freed from the shackles of confusion.”

The Court noted that the petitioner contention is that since the Court had directed the ASI to conduct the survey, the petitioner should be allowed to participate in it as his participation during the survey is essential as per the Court’s previous directive. The Court observed that while the petitioner had not initially sought direction for the ASI to conduct a survey in their original petition, they sought permission to participate in the survey after the Court’s order. The Court noted that there was a separate interlocutory application filed by the petitioner in the original petition regarding the survey, however, in the present case, no such application was filed, and the relief sought in the original petition did not pertain to the survey.

Furthermore, the Court observed that the survey was nearing completion and that the petitions would be decided based on the ASI’s report after the survey’s conclusion. Therefore, the Court found no grounds to permit the petitioner to participate or remain present during the survey and rejected the present application and directed to list the same along with original petition and other connected petitions on 29-04-2024.

[Kuldeep Tiwari v. Union of India, 2024 SCC OnLine MP 1806, order dated 04-04-2024]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Shri Manish Gupta, Counsel for the Petitioners

Shri Himanshu Joshi, Dy. Solicitor General, Counsel for the Union of India

Shri Ajay Bagadia, Senior Advocate with Shri Devansh Awal, Counsel for the Respondent No. 8

Shri Shreesh Dubey, Counsel for the Respondent No. 9

Shri Vaibhav Bhagwat, Government Advocate, Counsel for the Respondent/State

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