Rakhi Singh and others, representing the Hindu side in the Gyanvapi controversy, have filed a reply in the Supreme Court outlining all of the facts justifying the temple’s existence at the Gyanvapi edifice site. The reply was filed in response to the Masjid Committee’s special leave petition challenging the Civil Court’s orders for a survey and sealing of the mosque premises. According to the submissions, the property has belonged to Adi Vishweshwar for centuries, even before the Islamic rule in India, and hence the deity’s property cannot be handed to anybody.
In the reply submitted on behalf of the plaintiffs by Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain, it is claimed that the property is vested in the deity Lord Adi Vishweshwar and that Gyanvapi is not a mosque since Aurangazeb did not form a Waqf by dedicating the property. According to legend, the property had belonged to Adi Vishweshwar for thousands of years and was forcibly removed by Aurangazeb.
As stated in the reply, “The property in question does not belong to any Waqf. The property had already vested in deity Adi Vishweshwar lakhs of years before the start of the British Calendar year and is continuing to be the property of the deity. No Waqf can be created on the land already vesting in a deity. In the historical books written during the Mughal regime and thereafter even Muslim historians have not claimed that Aurangzeb after demolishing the temple structure of Adi Vishweshwara had created any Waqf or thereafter any member of the Muslim community or Ruler was dedicated such property to Waqf.”
“The alleged Gayanvapi Mosque is only a structure and same cannot be regarded as Mosque. Another aspect is that the disputed construction has not been erected over any Waqf property. The principle Waqf by the user cannot be applicable as the alleged Gyanvapi Mosque was constructed after demolishing a Hindu temple in 1669 at the same very place and the date of construction of the alleged Mosque is well known,” the reply further maintained.
“A Waqf can be created only on the land dedicated to Waqf by wakif who is the owner of the land. In the instant case, it is clear that from the time memorial the land and property belong to the deity and therefore there can be no Mosque there”, the reply mentions. It is asserted that a structure built on the site of a temple under the authority of any Muslim king or by any Muslim cannot be considered a mosque.
The reply asserted that in this case, “Aurangzeb did not create any Waqf and did not bequeath the property in question to the God. Therefore, the construction in question cannot be even presumed to be a mosque.” As a result, the property in question continues to be a Hindu place of worship. It is contended by the Hindu side that the religious character of the property has always been that of a Hindu temple and that it can never be interpreted as a mosque, therefore, the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991 is not applicable because the lawsuits have no intention of changing the religious character of the place.
The response further mentions that remains of the Hindu temple may be seen on the walls of the disputed Gyanvapi structure, which stands on the site of the demolished original Kashi Vishwanath Temple. It further states that on December 30, 1810, the then-District Magistrate, Mr Watson, wrote to the President Council requesting that the Gyanvapi area be permanently given to Hindus.
The matter was heard today by the Supreme Court, which reassigned the Gyanvapi dispute case from the Varanasi civil court to the Varanasi district court. Given the intricacies of the case and the sensitive issues involved, a three-judge bench comprised of Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant, and PS Narasimha stated that the matter should be handled by a senior and experienced judge.
The court went on to say that under the Places of Worship Act of 1991, there is no prohibition on determining a place’s religious character. The bench further stated that there are certain intricacies of the Act that will be considered further.