The Allahabad high court has reserved its judgment on a petition challenging maintainability of a civil suit pending before the Varanasi district court with respect to land title dispute in the Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi Masjid Case. Justice Prakash Padia reserved judgment after hearing the petitioner, Anjuman Intazamia Masazid (mosque committee), Varanasi, and respondents.
The land title disputes relates to the Gyanvapi mosque, which was allegedly built on the ruins of Kashi Vishwanath Temple. According to the suit filed by the temple's trust in 1991 in Varanasi district court, the temple was destroyed by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in 1664 and the mosque was built using the remains of the temple.
In the instant petition, Anjuman Intazamia Masazid, Varanasi has challenged the maintainability of the said suit taking the plea that Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, bars filing of suit or any other legal proceedings with respect to conversion of religious character of any place of worship, existing on August 15, 1947.
Hence, in this backdrop of the situation, it was argued on behalf of the petitioner that the impugned (under challenge) suit has been filed in contravention of the above provision and proceedings, therefore, it should be quashed on this ground alone. The petitioner has made reference to the Ayodaya-Babri Masjid case, where the apex court has observed, “Historical wrongs cannot be remedied by the people taking law in their own hands. In preserving the character of places of public worship. Parliament has mandated in no uncertain terms that history and its wrongs shall not be used as instruments to oppress the present and the future.
Earlier last year, the high court had stayed the decision of the Varanasai district court to proceed with the hearing of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple-Gyanvapi Mosque land title dispute. It is relevant to mention that after the said suit was filed in 1991, the Allahabad high court had imposed an interim order staying the hearing of the dispute in question. However, in February 2020, the district court held that the stay order stood vacated in the light of the Supreme Court verdict, which provided that all stay orders will come to an end after the expiry of six months unless in a exceptional case by the speaking order such stay is extended.
The district court observed that since the stay passed by the Allahabad High Court in 1998 had not been extended by a separate order within six months, the stay was deemed to be vacated and it could resume hearing of the case.