Gyanvapi mosque is located next to the famous Kashi Viswanath temple in Varanasi. (File)
Varanasi's seniormost judge is expected to decide today whether the court should continue hearing a case filed by five Hindu women seeking the right to worship inside the city's Gyanvapi mosque, located next to the famous Kashi Viswanath temple.
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District judge AK Vishvesha is likely to decide whether the case by the women -- that led to a survey inside the Gyanvapi mosque -- will continue to be heard or should be cancelled.
In May, the Supreme Court assigned the case to the Varanasi district judge's court, shifting it from a lower court where it was being heard till then.
The Supreme Court had ordered: "Keeping the complexity and sensitivity of the matter in view, the civil suit before the civil judge in Varanasi shall be heard before a senior and experienced judicial officer of the UP judicial service."
A month before the Supreme Court's intervention in the case, the Varanasi civil court had ordered the filming of the Gyanvapi mosque, based on the petition by the Hindu women who claim there are idols of Hindu Gods and goddesses in the Gyanvapi mosque complex
A report of the filming at the mosque was then submitted to the Varanasi court in a sealed cover, but the Hindu petitioners controversially released details just hours later.
The report claimed a "Shivling" had been found in a pond within the mosque complex used for "Wazoo" or purification rituals before Muslim prayers. The judge hearing the case at the time had ordered the sealing of this pond.
This filming inside the centuries-old mosque was challenged in the Supreme Court by the Gyanvapi mosque committee.
The petitioners said the filming goes against the Places of Worship Act of 1991, which maintains the religious status of any place of worship as of August 15, 1947.
"Such petitions and sealing of mosques will lead to public mischief and communal disharmony, will affect mosques across the country," the mosque committee had argued.
The mosque committee made similar arguments before the Varanasi district judge's court, while lawyers for the Hindu petitioners claimed the law does not bar their case and that they could establish in court that the mosque premises were actually a temple as on the day of Independence.