The Supreme Court on Monday postponed a Varanasi district court ruling until 5 p.m. on July 26 to allow the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to conduct a survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex to determine whether the masjid was built over an existing Hindu temple.
The court requested that the petition be heard on July 26 by the Allahabad High Court. A bench led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud directed the ASI not to conduct any invasive work to assess whether the Gyanvapi mosque, located next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi, was built on a temple and consented to hear a plea filed by the mosque committee during the day.
The bench took note of senior counsel Huzefa Ahmadi’s request that the matter be heard urgently in court on behalf of the mosque committee.
The Supreme Court directed Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was representing the Uttar Pradesh government, to notify the ASI team that no “invasive work” or excavation should take place at the site.
“We will hear it (the plea) at 2 pm,” the bench said. “Let there be a status quo for the time being. No excavation, no invasive method until we hear it,” Justice Chandrachud said.
Mehta, who was instructed to return at 11.15 a.m. to update the court about ASI’s survey methodology, told the court that not a single brick had been moved or was scheduled to be moved for at least a week. Only pictures and measurements are being taken.
The Supreme Court took note of Mehta’s declaration that no excavation will take place for at least a week.
“We are thinking of giving the mosque management committee enough time to challenge the district court’s order before the Allahabad HC. Let there be no excavation till such time. Come back and tell us what is it that ASI is doing,” the CJI had earlier asked Mehta.