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Supreme Court stays ASI survey at the disputed Gyanvapi Mosque structure in Varanasi till July 26

Senior Advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the respondents, assured the court that the structure would not be damaged during the study as the survey was non-penetrative.

On Monday, July 24, the Supreme Court of India halted the ongoing Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) survey at the disputed Gyanvapi Mosque structure till 5 PM on 26th July. The matter was mentioned before the Apex Court by senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi on behalf of the Gyanvapi Masjid Committee against Varanasi District Court’s order directing ASI to conduct a scientific survey at the disputed structure premises, excluding the sealed area where Shivling was found last year.

When the Chief Justice of India (CJI) questioned why petitioners did not approach the High Court, Ahmadi said the High Court did not agree to defer the survey. Senior Advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the respondents, assured the court that the structure would not be damaged during the study as the survey was non-penetrative. Divan added the investigation was being done using methods like GPR. SG Tushar Mehta also supported the survey saying it was non-invasive.

Countering the argument, Ahmadi claimed the order mentioned “excavation” and sought “reasonable time”. CJI first listed the matter for Friday (28th July) and instructed “absolutely no invasive work”. However, Ahmadi called for a stay, claiming the western wall was being dug.

SG Tushar Mehta confirmed only measurement and photography were being conducted by ASI, and not even a brick was being touched or will be touched in the future. However, Ahmadi kept asking for a stay on the survey.

Divan called to exercise caution on the matter. He said the petitioner “must go to the HC and SG already said no excavations… the court is seized of the matter and when SC makes status quo order continues indefinitely. Earlier order is fair and balanced.”

After hearing both sides, Supreme Court gave the Muslim side time till 5 PM on 26th July to approach High Court. The court directed ASI to maintain the status quo till then.

On 24th July, a scientific survey began at Gyanvapi at 7 AM. A 30-member Archeological Survey of India (ASI) team arrived at the site early on Monday morning amid heavy police presence. 30 to 32 members from the Hindu side and the ASI, including 4 women plaintiffs and their lawyers, went to the site with the required equipment. The ASI team was divided into four parts and is working in different areas of the premises. A Varanasi court on 21st July ordered an ASI survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex, excluding the “wazukhana” area which is sealed. While the survey was underway, the Muslim side approached Supreme Court seeking a stay on the survey.

In May last year, the claims of the existence of a Hindu temple underneath the disputed Gyanvapi structure were attested after videos and photos surfaced online showing Shivling inside the wazukhana of the disputed mosque, along with the motifs of Swastika, Trishul, Lotus and Hindu deities engraved on the walls of the basement.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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