Filming at the Varanasi Mosque begins tomorrow, case at SC: points to consider

13 May, 2022 | Riya Girdhar

The Supreme Court today refused to maintain the status quo, but decided to hear an urgent appeal challenging the mosque's continuous videography.

The district administration declared today that videography at Varanasi’s Gyanvapi Mosque will start tomorrow. The case has reached the Supreme Court after a group of ladies sought year-long access to a Hindu shrine behind the mosque.

District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma said he had talked with all parties’ involved and requested peace. “The court-appointed commissioners are in charge of the appeal to the Supreme Court. The procedure will begin tomorrow “he remarked.

The Supreme Court today decided to maintain the status quo in the case, but agreed to hear a petition challenging the continuous videography at the mosque next to Kashi Vishwanath temple on an expedited basis.

The order to perform a survey and videography of the mosque premises, according to the petition filed by lawyer Huzefa Ahmadi, is in violation of the Places of Worship Act, 1991.

The petitioner’s request for status quo was denied by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, who stated that such an order could not be issued without first reviewing papers.

Five Hindu ladies have applied for year-round admission to the mosque’s shrine. Once a year, the place is available for prayers. The women also want to be able to pray to different gods.

A municipal court ordered an investigation of the mosque compound in April after hearing the women’s petition and directed authorities to provide a report by May 10.

After a disagreement, the survey was halted. The court had not ordered videography inside the mosque, according to the mosque committee. The petitioners’ counsel, on the other hand, claimed that the court had approved the petition.

Hearing the case yesterday, the local court ruled that videography might take place anywhere the petitioners request. It also mandated that the survey be completed by May 17.

The commissioner in charge of the survey was not replaced by the court. According to the petitioners’ lawyer, the court has appointed two more survey commissioners, bringing the total to three.

The mosque committee has also appealed an Allahabad High Court decision on April 21 that denied a plea challenging the survey of the premises.