Hearing for Shringar Gauri-Gyanvapi case resumes in Varanasi Court

14 July, 2022 | Riya Girdhar

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Advocates for Hindu women petitioners seeking permission to worship daily at the Shringar Gauri Sthal in the Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi complex resumed their arguments in the Varanasi district court.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Varanasi district court resumed hearing on the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee’s (AIMC) plea challenging the maintainability of a suit filed by Hindu women seeking permission for daily worship at the Shringar Gauri Sthal in the Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi complex.

The advocates for the four Hindu women petitioners resumed their arguments in the court of district judge AK Vishvesh a day after AIMC attorneys concluded their arguments that the suit seeking permission for daily worship at the Maa Shringar Gauri Sthal is unsustainable.

Rakhi Singh and four other Hindu women petitioned for permission to worship Maa Shringar Gauri on a daily basis in August 2021. Rakhi Singh and others vs. Uttar Pradesh State and Anzuman Intezamia Masajid Committee is the name of the case.

“We presented several arguments to support our stand that the case is non-maintainable,” said Akhlaque Ahmad, an advocate appearing on behalf of AIMC, which manages the Gyanvapi mosque. For the time being, our debate is over.”

The Muslim side also argued that the plea is not maintainable because the Places of Worship Act, 1991, prohibits conversion of any place of worship and requires that any place of worship retain its religious character as it existed on August 15, 1947. Later in the day, Hindu advocates presented their arguments.

“The Places of Worship Act,1991, Section 4(2) is not applicable in this case,” said Vishnu Shankar Jain, an advocate for the four plaintiffs. The Waqf Act is also inapplicable. The Kashi Act of 1983 applies to our case.”

“We believe the case is maintainable and will make our case again in court on Wednesday,” he added.

Jitendra Singh Vishen, the president of the Vishwa Vedic Sanatan Sangh, claimed that because advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain is the standing counsel for the Uttar Pradesh government in the Supreme Court, he cannot represent petitioners in any case in which the state government is a party.

Jain, however, rebutted Vishen. Jain stated, “Yes, I am the standing attorney for the state of Uttar Pradesh before the Supreme Court, but the government has given its approval for me to argue this case.

A lower court ordered a video survey of the Gyanvapi complex after the lawsuit was filed, and the Hindu side claimed a “Shivling” was discovered during the exercise.

Considering the “complexities and sensitivity of the subject, it is better if a senior judicial officer with expertise of over 25-30 years handles this case,” the SC on May 20 shifted the Shringar Gauri-Gyanvapi case from a civil judge to the district judge.

On May 26, the Varanasi district court began hearing testimony regarding the case’s maintainability.