Gyanvapi Mosque: Officer Who Led Video Survey Sacked, Report By Thursday

Today, while dismissing the commissioner, the court questioned how the survey details were leaked, since the findings were to remain confidential.

The Supreme Court is also hearing the Gyanvapi mosque issue.

New Delhi:

A court in Varanasi has sacked a top official involved in the filming of the Gyanvapi mosque complex and has given a two-day extension to submit the report.  The commissioner in charge of the job, Ajay Mishra, an advocate, was removed after lawyers representing the Hindu petitioners and the mosque respondents had a heated argument in court today over the findings of the filming being leaked to the media even before the report was submitted to court

On Monday, the petitioners  -- five Hindu women who claim there are idols of Hindu gods and goddesses inside the mosque -- claimed a "Shivling " was found near the pond used for 'Wazu ' inside the mosque complex during the court-mandated videography.

A mosque management committee member, however, has disputed the claim, saying the object was part of the water fountain mechanism at the reservoir where people carry out ablutions before offering namaz

On Monday, the court directed the Varanasi district administration to seal the spot inside the complex

Ajay Mishra was removed following a complaint by Vishal Singh, who is the new Chief Advocate Commissioner. "I had given the petition regarding the conduct of Ajay Mishra. Ajay Mishra had appointed a private cameraman who was giving statements in the media and spreading rumours," he said. "I am saying with full responsibility that my report will be fair," he added.

Admitting that the private cameraman he hired had leaked the details, Mr Mishra told the media that he got "cheated"."What can I do about it? I hired the photographer, he cheated," he said.

On May 12, the court had rejected a plea to replace the advocate commissioner and ordered that the filming be completed by May 17. But today, the commission tasked with videography sought more time to submit its report, saying it is yet to be compiled.

The Supreme Court is also hearing the issue after the management of Gyanvapi mosque appealed against the survey. "The suit speaks about changing the religious character which is currently the mosque," the petition read.

One of the petitioners also cited the alleged finding of a Shivling, contending that the breach of confidentiality was "highly improper".

The top court amended the Varanasi court's order to seal the area where the Shivling was found.

"The District Magistrate of Varanasi shall ensure that the area where the Shivaling was found be protected… without impeding the Muslims from using the mosque for worship," the three-judge bench has said.