Gyanvapi Case: Varanasi Court Accepts Plea Seeking Prayer At 'Shivling'

Gyanvapi Mosque Case: The petition has also sought that Muslims be banned from the Gyanvapi mosque complex and it be handed over to Hindus.

Gyanvapi Case: The mosque committee have objected to a scientific investigation.

Lucknow:

A petition seeking that prayers be allowed to the "Shivaling" found inside Varanasi's Gyanvapi mosque complex, will be heard by a local court. A fast-track court, in its order on the matter today, has said that the petition -- which also sought that Muslims be banned from the Gyanvapi mosque complex and it be handed over to Hindus -- is "maintainable". The court dismissed the challenge to the petition by the Gyanvapi mosque committee and fixed December 2 as the next date of hearing.

The petition before the fast track court was filed by an organisation called the Vishwa Vaidic Sanatan Sanstha.

Another court in Varanasi, the court of district judge AK Vishwesha, is already hearing the main petition related to the Gyanvapi dispute.

The mosque, located next to the iconic Kashi Vishwanath Temple, has been one of the three temple-mosque rows -- besides Ayodhya and Mathura -- which the BJP raised in the 1980s and 90s, gaining national prominence.

The decades-old legal dispute over the issue was escalated after the Supreme Court's judgment in favour of a temple in the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid issue.  

The 'Shivling' was found earlier this year during a video survey carried out in the Gyanvapi temple complex following the orders of a lower court in Varanasi.

Five women had filed the initial petition, seeking permission for year-long prayers at a shrine inside the mosque complex. They had claimed that ancient idols of Hindu gods and goddesses are located inside the mosque.

After the Supreme Court's intervention , the case was transferred to the court of Varanasi's seniormost judge, who later ruled that the case by the women was 'maintainable' and would be heard in court and dismissed the mosque committee's plea that the Hindu side's petition had no legal standing

The committee had cited the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991, which maintains that the religious status of any place of worship should stay the way it was on August 15, 1947. Section 3 of the Act bars the conversion of places of worship. The Babri Masjid case was the exception.  

The court ruled that the petitioners do not want ownership, but only the right to worship.

Four of the five women petitioners then filed a plea seeking "scientific investigation" of the "Shivaling", contending that it is necessary to determine its age.

The mosque committee objected to a scientific investigation, arguing that the object being called a "Shivaling" is actually a "fountain" for ritual ablutions.

The district judge's court then dismissed the scientific investigation plea.

Recently, a petition has been filed challenging the Constitutional validity of certain sections of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991 before the Supreme Court.

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