HC asks Muslims to prove they possessed Gyanvapi mosque cellar

Counsel for Muslim side argued that district judge had given final relief sought in the suit at the initial stage, which cannot be permitted.

Prayagraj: The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday, February 6, heard both the Hindu and Muslim sides on the Gyanvapi mosque committee’s appeal challenging the Varanasi district court order allowing Hindu prayers in the cellar of the mosque.

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Appearing on behalf of the Muslim side, senior advocate SFA Naqvi submitted that by the order of January 31, the district judge had given final relief sought in the suit at the initial stage, which cannot be permitted.

Naqvi further submitted before the court that the order was passed in a “very hurried manner” and on the day of retirement of the judge concerned. Varanasi district judge Ajaya Krishna Vishvesha retired from service on January 31.

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The high court asked Naqvi to prove if the disputed land belonged to them since 1993, with proper records. “Just show me that you were in possession. I will allow your appeal. Because this is just an interim arrangement. Prima facie it has to be on record that you were in possession of the cellar,” said Justice Rohit Ranjan Agrawal as per LiveLaw.

When Naqvi argued that such requests were never raised before a court from 1993 onwards, Justice Agarwal said, “That argument goes against you because then that means that they were in possession then and were not aggrieved parties.”

“When they have not done puja since 1968, then where is the question of 1993? In their (Hindus) suit, there is no whisper of the fact that they are in possession of a cellar etc. When one person’s ancestor has relinquished the right earlier, how can now a suit be filed in 2023?” Naqvi argued.

Justice Agarwal questioned Naqvi over barricading the place saying allowing it does not prove the disputed land is under Muslims’ possession.

Naqvi argued that barricading prevented either side from taking possession but the southern cellar was a part of the mosque. “It is admitted that after 1993, they didn’t have possession either”, he said.

The Varanasi court had ruled on Wednesday that a priest can perform prayers before the idols in the southern cellar of the Gyanvapi mosque.

The Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, which looks after the affairs of the mosque in Varanasi adjacent to the Kashi Vishwanath temple, had filed the plea on February 2 last challenging the Varanasi court order allowing prayers in the southern cellar of the Gyanvapi mosque.

It moved the high court within hours of the Supreme Court refusing to hear its plea against the Varanasi district court order and asking it to approach the high court.

The Allahabad HC had on Friday not given any immediate relief to the Gyanvapi Masjid committee which had challenged the Varanasi district court order.

The HC will continue hearing the matter tomorrow from 10 am.

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