The Allahabad High Court has granted three weeks to Union and State governments to file their responses on a plea challenging the order of a local Varanasi court which had allowed an Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) study of the Gyanvapi Mosque adjacent to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. The government need to submit their responses within the given time. Single-judge Justice Prakash Padia granted three weeks to the Union and State governments to file their counter-affidavit.
"In compliance of the aforesaid orders, notices had been served in the Office of Assistant Solicitor General of India and in the Office of Advocate General. As prayed, three weeks time is granted to file reply to the present petition. One week time is granted to file rejoinder affidavit," the court said
FACTS & ISSUES OF THE CASE- On August 17, the court had allowed the petitioner to implead Union of India, Ministry of Culture through Director General, Archaeological Survey of India and Uttar Pradesh Government as parties to the case. The petition was moved by Senior Advocate SFA Naqvi, assisted by Advocate Ahmed Faizan and Punit Gupta, challenging the order of a Varanasi court which had allowed the ASI survey, despite the fact that the Allahabad High Court had already reserved the judgement on the same issue. The order allowing ASI survey was passed by Civil Judge (Senior Division) at Varanasi Civil Court, Ashutosh Tiwari in April. The plea before the local court had demanded the restoration of the land on which the Gyanvapi Mosque is located to Hindus on claims that Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb had pulled down a portion of the 2000-year-old Kashi Vishwanath Temple to build the Gyanvyapi Mosque there in 1669. The suit was opposed by the Gyanvyapi Mosque Management Committee.
CIVIL COURT JUDGEMENT-
"A large number of persons including Indians and Non-Citizens, belonging to two religions are equally in knowing the truth of the cause of action of the plaintiffs as well as of the defence of the defendants.The circumstances in the case in hand are such that none of the parties are in a position to lead direct evidence to prove their assertions and counter assertions, as at presently hardly any person would be alive to come and testify before this court. This court is of the view that since the defendants have outrightly denied the factum of demolition of the temple of Lord Vishweshwara in obedience of farman of Badshah Aurangjeb at the disputed site and subsequent conversion of the same into a mosque, hence in these circumstances it is incumbent on the part of this court to find the truth."
Subsequently, on April 12, Anjuman Intezamia had filed an urgent application before the Allahabad High Court contending that the order of the trial court allowing an Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) study of the Mosque was passed illegally and without jurisdiction.
HIGH COURT JUDGEMENT- In the plea before the High Court, it was submitted by the petitioner that judge Tiwari, who had passed the order, had already been transferred to Shahjahanpur by the Allahabad High Court on March 23 and judgment in High Court was reserved on March 15 in main case by the same bench of Justice Prakash Padia. Hence, the Civil Judge became functus officio and could not have passed order in April directing ASI survey. And the government has been given three weeks to submit their response.