A court in Varanasi will hear on Saturday an application filed by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), seeking 15 more days to submit its report of a scientific survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex. The Varanasi district court, which was scheduled to hear the matter on Friday afternoon, will now take it up on Saturday, Centre’s counsel Amit Srivastava said.
The ASI carried out the scientific survey of the Gyanvapi premises, located next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi, to determine whether the 17th-century mosque was constructed over a pre-existing structure of a Hindu temple. The ASI told the court on November 2 that it had “completed” the survey work. The court had given the ASI time till Friday (November 17) to submit the report, but since a report of the techniques used in the survey is yet to arrive, the ASI filed an application in the court on Friday seeking 15 more days to submit the document, Srivastava said.
District Judge A K Vishvesh will hear the application on Saturday, he added. The ASI told the court on November 2 that it might take some more time to compile the report, along with the details of the equipment used in the survey work, following which additional time till November 17 was granted for the submission of the document.
On October 5, the court granted four more weeks to the ASI and said the duration of the survey would not be extended beyond this. On August 4, the court granted the ASI an additional month to complete the survey, extending its original deadline (from August 4) to September 4. It provided another four-week extension for the survey work on September 6.
The survey had begun after the Allahabad High Court upheld a Varanasi district court order and ruled that the step was “necessary in the interest of justice” and would benefit both the Hindu and Muslim sides to the dispute. During an earlier hearing, the mosque management committee had objected to the survey, alleging that the ASI was digging the basement as well as other places of the mosque complex without permission and accumulating debris on the western wall, posing a risk that the structure might collapse.
The ASI team was not authorised to survey the premises by removing debris or garbage, the mosque panel had said. The Gyanvapi committee had also moved the Supreme Court against the high court’s order. The apex court had, on August 4, refused to stay the high court’s order on the ASI survey.
In its order, the bench of Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, however, asked the ASI not to carry out any invasive act during the survey. This ruled out any excavations, which the Varanasi court had said could be conducted, if necessary.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)