SC halts ASI’s survey at premises till tomorrow

SC halts ASI’s survey at premises till tomorrow

Top court directs the Allahabad High Court to hear the appeal before its status quo order expires on Wednesday evening

New Delhi: In a relief to the Gyanvapi committee, the Supreme Court on Monday halted till 5 pm on July 26 a “detailed scientific survey” of the ASI to determine if the mosque located next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi was built upon a temple, saying “some breathing time” needed to be granted to appeal against the order.

Taking up the plea moved by Anjuman Intezamia Masjid (AIM) of the Gyanvapi mosque for an urgent hearing, the top court directed the Allahabad High Court to hear the appeal before its “status quo” order expires on Wednesday evening.

The apex court’s order came at a time when a 30-member team of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was inside the mosque complex to carry out the survey. A Varanasi court directed the ASI on Friday to conduct the survey -- including excavations, wherever necessary -- to determine if the mosque was built at a place where a temple existed earlier. “We permit the petitioners to move the high court in the exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 227 of the Constitution or the appropriate proceedings to challenge the order of the learned district judge of Varanasi.

“We direct that the impugned order of the district judge shall not be enforced till 5 pm on July 26. In the meantime, should petitioners move the high court with the petition or application under Article 227, the registrar-judicial shall ensure that it is placed before an appropriate bench according to the roster of work so that it can be heard before the order of the status quo, which has been granted by this court, comes to an end,” ordered a bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra. The bench directed Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared in the court on behalf of the Uttar Pradesh government, to immediately convey the order to the ASI officials working at the site. At the outset of the day’s proceedings, the plea was mentioned by senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, who was representing the mosque committee, for an immediate stay of the ASI work, saying that the task has been undertaken in a “tearing hurry”, without affording the time to the aggrieved party to file an appeal.

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