A Varanasi court will hear an application filed by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Saturday, seeking an additional 15 days to submit its report on the scientific survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex. The scheduled hearing on Friday has been rescheduled for Saturday, as confirmed by the Centre’s counsel, Amit Srivastava.
The ASI conducted a scientific survey of the Gyanvapi premises, situated adjacent to the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi, with the aim of determining whether the 17th-century mosque was built over a pre-existing Hindu temple structure.
On November 2, the ASI informed the court that it had “completed” the survey work. Although the court had initially granted time until Friday (November 17) for the report submission, an application was filed by the ASI on Friday, citing the pending arrival of a report detailing the survey techniques and seeking a 15-day extension for document submission, as explained by Srivastava.
District Judge A K Vishvesh will address the application on Saturday. The ASI had previously informed the court on November 2 that additional time might be required to compile the report, including details about the survey equipment used. Consequently, the court granted an extension until November 17 for the document submission.
On October 5, the court had allowed an additional four weeks for the ASI to complete the survey, specifying that the duration would not be extended beyond this period. On August 4, the ASI was granted an extra month to conclude the survey, extending the original deadline to September 4. Another four-week extension for survey work was provided on September 6.
The survey was initiated following an Allahabad High Court decision, which upheld a Varanasi district court order, deeming the step “necessary in the interest of justice” and beneficial for both Hindu and Muslim stakeholders in the dispute. In a prior hearing, the mosque management committee raised objections, alleging that the ASI was conducting unauthorized excavation in the mosque complex, posing a risk of structural collapse.
The ASI team was accused of unauthorised excavation and debris accumulation by the mosque panel, which emphasized that the ASI lacked the authority to survey the premises in such a manner. The Gyanvapi committee had also approached the Supreme Court against the high court’s order.
On August 4, the apex court declined to stay the high court’s order on the ASI survey. In its order, the bench, comprising Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, directed the ASI not to perform any invasive acts during the survey, ruling out excavations that the Varanasi court had deemed possible if necessary.