[Krishna Janmabhoomi-Shahi Idgah Dispute] Allahabad High Court Allows Plea Seeking Transfer Of All Suits To HC

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Transfer of all the suits to the high court had been sought on the ground that the issue raised in these suits is of national importance and raises substantial questions of law, which only the high court can decide. 

The Allahabad High Court on Friday allowed the plea seeking transfer of all the suits pertaining to the Krishna Janmbhoomi- Shahi Idgah dispute to the high court.

The bench of Justice Arvind Kumar Mishra directed the District Judge, Mathura to prepare a list of all such cases of similar nature involving the subject matter and forward the same to the high court within two weeks.

"It is requested to the respected Chief Justice to kindly nominate an appropriate Bench for trial and disposal of such suits, so withdrawn," the single judge bench noted in the order. 

While passing the order, the high court exercised jurisdiction under Section 24 CPC and referred to the case of Ram Janambhoomi, which was transferred to the High Court from the subordinate courts.

Court noted the the Ram Janbhoomi case was not trasfered to the high court for the only reason of a long delay of 40 years in conclusion of the trial rather it had been transferred on account of religious sentiments, general of tensions between two communities and to preserve amity brotherly relations.

Further, court rejected the contentions raised by the U.P. Sunni Central Waqf Board and other respondent parties that their right of appeal will be lost if the suit is transferred to the High Court and it would be inconvenient for the witnesses who reside in Mathura to give evidence at Prayagraj.

"The Order 18 Rule 4 CPC provides for recording evidence and it is for the Court to record evidence either itself or by commissioner appointed by it. With the advancement of the technology and impetus being provided to e-judiciary, physical presence of the witnesses can be done in the manner and mode as per discretion available with this Court trying the suit and it can be recorded through audio - video link," Court underscored while referring to the case of Twentieth Century Fox Film Vs. NRI Film Production Pvt. Ltd (2003).

Furthermore, court highlighted that though the respondents had opposed the transfer application, they had not refuted the issues of religious, historical and national importance of the matter. 

Therefore, while pointing out that approximately 10 suits are pending before the civil court and more can also be pending, court allowed the transfer of all such suits to itself. 

"...issue can be said to be seminal public importance affected the masses beyond tribe and beyond communities having not proceeded an inch further since their institution on merits for past two to three years, provides full justification for withdrawal of all the suits touching upon the issue involved in the suit from the civil court concerned to this Court under Section 24(1)(b) CPC," held the court.

The application before the high court had contended that the issue raised in the said suits is of national importance and raises substantial questions of law, which only the high court can decide. 

Bhagwan Shrikrishna Virajman And 7 Others moved the high court seeking transfer of suit no. 353/2022 pending in the Court of Civil Judge Senior Division, Mathura to the high court earlier this year.

The applicants alleged that subsequent to the registration of suit no. 353/2022, a number of suits had been filed pertaining to the land dispute concerning Shahi Idgah.  Even the content of the suit plaint has been copied verbatim, the applicants claimed. 

Therefore, stating that all such suits are of similar nature and subject matter and relief in all these cases are similar, the applicants sought transfer of suits to the high court.

The high court, on February 1, 2023, agreed to hear the transfer application and issued notice to the respondents. 

However, on March 15, 2023, the court noted that despite sufficiently served notice and specific order of the court, no one appeared before the court on behalf of respondent party no.4 (Shri Krishna Janamsthan Sewa Sansthan). Therefore, taking a stern view, court granted one last opportunity to all four respondent parties to file counter affidavits within a period of ten days but the same were yet awaited. 

Thereafter, last month, court granted one more opportunity to the respondents to file their respective counter-affidavits latest by April 7, 2023. 

The Krishna Janmbhoomi- Shahi idgah dispute pertains to claims made by many devotees of Lord Krishna that the Shahi Idgah Mosque is built over the land belonging to the deity and the actual birthplace of Lord Krishna lies beneath it.

It has been alleged that the 13.37 acres of land, which also includes the mosque area, is the Krishna Janmbhoomi land, and, an illegal structure was raised by Muslims over it.

Recently, the high court remanded a matter pertaining to the same dispute back to the Trial Court in Mathura to hear it without being influenced by any observation made by the District Judge in the order dated May 19, 2022.

Case Title: Bhagwan Shrikrishna Virajman And 7 Others v U.P. Sunni Central Waqf Board And 3 Others