After both the Hindu and Muslim side agreed on retaining, for now, the current position on a "Shivling" said to have been found in Varanasi's Gyanvapi Mosque, the Supreme Court on Friday extended its order for sealing and protection of the particular area.
This is in line with what the court said yesterday, after advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain, appearing for some Hindu devotees underlined that the area-protection order of May would expire on November 12.
In May, the Supreme Court had passed an interim order directing the District Magistrate to ensure protection of the area inside the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri complex where the "Shivling" was said to have been found in a court-ordered survey. The Muslim side says the base of a water fountain is being wrongly portrayed as a Shivling.
Another aspect of the case is on in a fast-track district court, which, on November 8, postponed till November 14 its judgement on a plea seeking permission to allow Hindu worship of the purported "Shivling".
The mosque committee has challenged the very validity of of the petition by some Hindu devotees demanding right to pray at the shrine. After a trial court said the Hindu women's petition is valid, the mosque management's appeal is pending in the Allahabad High Court.
The case took limelight in April, when a lower court — orignally hearing a plea by a group of women seeking permission for daily worship of idols of Hindu deities on the mosque's outer walls — ordered a video survey of the Gyanvapi complex.
The Hindu side then made the "Shivling" claim based on the survey, but the Muslim side has said the object was part of a water fountain at the 'wazookhana' reservoir where devotees carry out ablutions before offering namaz.
The Supreme Court then transferred the case from the civil judge to the district judge on May 20, saying, looking at the "complexities" and "sensitivity" of the issue, it is better if a senior judicial officer with an experience of 25-30 years handles the case.
Yet another related case is being heard by a district judge. It demands a survey of closed underground places on the Gyanvapi premises.