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  • In Committee Of Management Anjuman Intezamia Masajid Varanasi vs Rakhi Singh and ors. the Hon’ble Apex Court has held that the order passed by the Civil Judge Senior Division at Varanasi where a shivalinga was claimed to have been found does not restrict the rights of the muslims to offer namaz and observe other religious practices. 
  • The Court observed that the orders of the Civil Judge Senior Division dated 18-8-2021, 5-04-2022 and 8-04-2022 were questioned before the single judge of the HC of Allahabad under Article 227 of the Constitution. The Single Judge, via an order dated 21-04-2022 had rejected the petition. 
  • In pursuance of this order of the Trial Court Judge, the Commissioner commenced the workings of the Commission on 14 and 15 May, 2022. During the course of this execution, an application was filed before the Trial Court Judge on 16 May, 2022, in which it was prayed that the Waju Khana  be sealed by CRPF personnel with proper force and that the Muslims be forbidden to offer namaz in the Mosque. It was also prayed that not more than 20 Muslims be allowed to offer namaz, and that the use of the Waju Khana be stopped immediately. 
  • On this application, the Trial Court Judge ordered that the DM, Varanasi would be responsible for ensuring that the area in which the Sivlinga was found is sealed immediately and entry of any persons in the restricted area be prohibited immediately. Thus, the application was allowed. 
  • The Learned Counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner argued that the order of the Trial Court Judge is susceptible to the interpretation that the entirety of the reliefs which were sought had been allowed. It was urged that the order was passed ex-parte when the work of the Commission was in progress and that they question the orders of a survey on the ground of jurisdiction.
  • A bench comprising DY Chandrachud and PS Narasimha observed that the order of the Learned Trial Court Judge would stand restricted to the extent that the DM would ensure that the area where the shivalinga was stated to have been found shall be duly protected. 
  • This direction would, in no way, curtail the rights of the Muslims to access  the Mosque for the purpose of performing namaz or other religious activities. 
  • The present dispute pertains to the land where the Gyanvapi Mosque is situated, and has been in dispute since 1991. In 1991, a suit was filed by the devotees of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple near which the Gyanvapi Mosque is situated, alleging that the Mosque was built after Lord Vishweshwar’s temple was destroyed by Emperor Aurangzeb. 
  • Another dispute was filed by female worshippers of Lord Shiva in 2021 seeking restoration of the performance of rituals at the principal seat of the Ancient Temple in the Gyanvapi Mosque area. 
  • The Court has, in the case, appointed two more lawyers as Commissioners to assist the Court Commissioner Ajay Mishra for the survey and a report had to be filed before the Court by 17 May. 
     
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