In a recent development in the Gyanvapi Mosque case, the Supreme Court has advised the mosque management committee to contest the evidentiary significance of a report from a Varanasi court commissioner. The report, dated May of the previous year, highlighted an alleged 'Shivling' in the mosque's wuzu area during the trial of a suit filed by Hindus seeking worship rights inside the masjid.
Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud, leading a three-judge bench, suggested to senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, representing the mosque management committee, that they could challenge the evidentiary value of the Varanasi court-appointed commissioner's report during the trial of the suit. The Chief Justice stated, "You can raise all objections to the commissioner's report during the trial." However, Ahmadi argued that the appointment of the court commissioner by the Varanasi district judge was inherently illegal, alleging that it was intended to collect evidence in favor of the plaintiffs.
In response, Chief Justice Chandrachud emphasized that during the trial of the suit, the court commissioner must take the witness stand for cross-examination, providing an opportunity for the mosque management committee to contest the evidentiary value of the report.
Huzefa Ahmadi conveyed the committee's preference for the Supreme Court to rule on three key matters: the appointment of the court commissioner, the carbon dating of the 'Shivling' (referred to by the Muslim side as a fountain), and the admissibility of the suit considering the restrictions under the Places of Worship Act, which preserves the religious character of buildings as of August 15, 1947. The next hearing is scheduled for December 1.
In a previous order on November 11 of the previous year, the Supreme Court had issued an indefinite extension of its interim orders from May 20, 2022. These orders directed the Varanasi district judge to safeguard the wuzu area in the Gyanvapi mosque, where a significant 'Shivling' had been uncovered on May 16 as part of a survey ordered by a trial court.
After a hearing involving the committee on May 17, the Supreme Court assigned the responsibility to the Varanasi District Magistrate alone, instructing them "to ensure that the area where the Shivling is stated to have been found shall be duly protected." The Court clarified that there would be no restrictions on Muslims from accessing other areas of the mosque.
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