A Varanasi court is set to rule on the validity of a petition that seeks a ban on entry of Muslims to the Gyanvapi Mosque premises.
The mosque, located next to the iconic Kashi Vishwanath Temple, has been at the centre of a decades-old legal dispute. The issue came under the spotlight last year after five women petitioners went to court, seeking permission for daily prayers before Hindu idols on the mosque's outer walls and other "visible and invisible deities within the old temple complex". The area is now open to Hindu devotees once a year for prayers.
While the main case is being heard in the court of Varanasi's district judge, a fast track court is hearing a separate petition on the issue.
The fast-track court had earlier said it will rule today on the validity of the petition that seeks a ban on the entry of Muslims. The petition by Vishwa Vaidik Sanatan Sangh has also sought handover of the premises to Hindus and the permission to worship the "Shivling" said to be found inside.
Hindu petitioners have claimed that a "Shivling" was found in the mosque premises during a videography survey ordered by a Varanasi court
Subhash Nandan Chaturvedi, the lawyer for the Hindu petitioners, claimed the "Shivling" emerged from a pond used for "wazoo" or ablution rituals before namaz.
The mosque committee has rejected the claim, and asserted that the structure was a "fountain". The committee had also moved a plea arguing that the Hindu side's petition had no legal standing. But this challenge was dismissed by the court of Varanasi's seniormost judge.
The Muslim side has challenged in Allahabad High Court the Varanasi court's order to allow videography on the premises.
The Supreme Court had in May ordered the sealing of the area where the "Shivling" is said to have been found. The court last week extended the sealing order.