[Gyanvapi] “Suits by Hindu side attempt to breach fraternity between communities”: Mosque committee moves SC

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The plea has been moved against Allahabad HC order which held that the suits by hindu side are not barred by the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 

The Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee which is responsible for managing affairs of the mosque built on disputed Gyanvapi-Kashi Vishwanath temple has approached Supreme Court against the claims of hindu worshippers.

It has claimed that the suits are an “attempt to disturb communal peace and harmony” and a “blatant attempt to breach the fraternity existing between the communities”.

They have filed a plea questioning validity of December 19, 2023 Allahabad High Court's judgment that dismissed the petitions against maintainability of suits on the site, holding that those were not barred under the Places of Worship Act and should be allowed to proceed.

The petitioner has stated that it is aggrieved by the High Court's order, which also found the suits for claiming worshipping rights were maintainable.

Out of the five cases before the High Court, three petitions were preferred by the petitioner, the Managing Committee of the mosque, and two by the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board. 

"Even though the very purpose of the 1991 Act was to foreclose any fresh controversies from rising and in the debates thereupon in the Parliament, the Gyanvapi Mosque was specifically mentioned and found no exception, the High Court has taken an interpretation making it possible for such controversies, and ergo, communal tensions, to still rise their head," the plea said.

It stated the High Court has completely misdirected itself in holding that even for a bar under the 1991 Act, it would require determination as to what was the “religious character” of a place even though admittedly the same is in use by Muslims as a Mosque since prior to August 19, 1947. 

"The Act of 1991 promotes constitutional values and the Preambular promise of fraternity and secularism which is part of the basic structure of the Constitution. Secularism and fraternity, are also part of Fundamental Duties under Article 51(A) (e). Therefore, if such disputes are allowed to fester the object “to foreclose any controversy” or “to maintain communal harmony and peace” will be reduced to a dead letter," their plea said.

It further contended while premising its conclusion on the basis that the 1991 Act does not define “religious character”, the High Court has asserted that such a question could not be decided as a preliminary issue in the trial and would have required adjudication on the basis of evidence. "This supposition is completely out of sync with the intent of the 1991 Act and renders the same otiose," it contended.

The petitioner also said the HC's judgment also severely failed to note that the reliefs being clothed in clever drafting, having the effect of seeking entry in the Mosque premises, would evidently relate to a dispute, question or other matter relating to the waqf property, and attract the bar on civil courts as contained in Section 85, read with Section 83, of the Waqf Act, 1995.

"Moreover, despite an ASI survey having been conducted in another Original Suit No 18 of 2022 which order has been limited by this Court to ensure no invasive techniques are used during the survey, the order impugned leaves enough room for another round of survey by the ASI which may also include excavation," it claimed.


Cause Title: Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Varanasi Vs The Ist Additional District Judge, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh