NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday stopped the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) till 5pm on Wednesday from conducting a scientific survey/excavation to determine whether a temple had existed on the site of the Gyanvapi mosque next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi to enable the Muslim side to appeal against the district court’s July 21 order allowing the archaeological examination.

The court asked petitioner Anjuman Intezamia Masjid to move the Allahabad high court on Tuesday and directed the HC registrar to ensure that the appeal is placed for hearing before an appropriate bench before expiry of the SC’s status quo order.

Watch: ASI begins survey amid tight security at Gyanvapi mosque, Varanasi

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Watch: ASI begins survey amid tight security at Gyanvapi mosque, Varanasi

The bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said, “Having regard to the fact that the order of the district court was pronounced at 4.30pm on July 21 and the survey is in the process of being carried out today, we are of the view that some breathing time must be granted to the petitioners to move the high court for pursuing their remedies. We direct that the impugned order of the district court shall not be enforced until 5pm on July 26. This shall not be construed as the expression of opinion on the merits.”

SC gives ‘breathing time’ to mosque management for appeal
The bench passed the restraint order after the ASI declined to commit that it would stop work on its own. One of the primary reasons for granting status quo was the bench’s disapproval of the district judge passing an order on Friday at 4.30pm directing ASI survey from Monday, which deprived the mosque management committee an opportunity to appeal for an urgent hearing before the HC as the next two days — Saturday and Sunday — were holidays.

Big Gyanvapi verdict! Varanasi Court permits ASI survey of Gyanvapi Mosque premises

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Big Gyanvapi verdict! Varanasi Court permits ASI survey of Gyanvapi Mosque premises

The bench told solicitor general Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the UP government and took instructions from the ASI on the nature of survey being carried out, that the court would not pass an order directing status quo if the ASI on its own stopped the survey till Friday.

The SG declined to give any such undertaking even as he assured that the ASI did not intend to carry out any excavation work for at least a week and that only measurement, photography and radar imaging of the site was being undertaken.
At 10.45 am, the mosque management committee, through senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, sought urgent hearing on its petition seeking stay of the survey of the Gyanvapi mosque, excluding the “wuzu” area where a purported shivling was found and which has been sealed since May 17 last year on the SC’s order.
On May 19 this year, the SC had stayed the HC’s May 12 order directing carbon dating of the purported shivling.


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