Allahabad HC rejects Gyanvapi mosque committee’s appeal, allows Hindu prayers; Owaisi criticizes decision

Advocate Prabhash hailed the verdict, expressing it as a “big victory for Sanatana Dharma.” He remarked that the judge had rejected the appeals filed by the Muslim side against the District Judge’s order, signifying the continuation of the puja arrangements.

On Monday, the Allahabad High Court rejected the appeal from the Gyanvapi Mosque committee contesting the Varanasi district court’s ruling permitting prayers in a cellar within the Gyanvapi mosque complex. Justice Rohit Ranjan Agarwal of the Allahabad HC delivered the verdict.

Justice Agarwal stated during the pronouncement of the verdict that, after thoroughly reviewing the entire case records and considering the arguments put forth by the concerned parties, the court did not discover any grounds to intervene in the judgment delivered by the district judge on January 17, 2024, appointing the DM, Varanasi, as the receiver of the property, as well as the order issued on January 31, 2024, permitting Puja in the Tehkhana.

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Advocate Prabhash hailed the verdict, expressing it as a “big victory for Sanatana Dharma.” He remarked that the judge had rejected the appeals filed by the Muslim side against the District Judge’s order, signifying the continuation of the puja arrangements. Additionally, he noted that the District Magistrate would persist as the Receiver of the ‘Tehkhana.’ He added that the Muslim side retains the option to seek a review of the decision, emphasizing that the puja activities will persist uninterrupted. He conveyed this information to news agency ANI.

Another Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain, representing the Hindu side, remarked that the Allahabad High Court had dismissed the initial appeal from the orders of Anjuman Intezamia. This appeal was directed against the orders dated January 17th and 31st. He explained that the consequence of this decision is the continuation of the ongoing puja in the ‘Vyas Tehkhana’ of the Gyanvapi complex. He added that if Anjuman Intezamia chooses to approach the Supreme Court, they would lodge their caveat with the top court.

On January 31, the Varanasi court issued a ruling permitting the Hindu side to conduct prayers in the southern cellar of the Gyanvapi mosque, known as the ‘Vyas Tehkhana.’ Additionally, the court instructed the district magistrate to facilitate arrangements for the ‘puja’ ceremony, including the appointment of a ‘pujari’ nominated by the Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Trust.

Subsequently, on February 1, the Anjuman Intezamia Masajid Committee, responsible for the management of the Gyanvapi Mosque in Varanasi, lodged a plea before the Allahabad High Court contesting the decision made by the Varanasi court. This action followed closely after the Supreme Court declined to promptly hear the plea submitted by the mosque committee.

The mosque comprises four ‘tahkhanas’ (cellars) located in the basement, with one of them still under the possession of the Vyas family, who historically resided there.

The mosque committee asserted that the ‘Vyas Tehkhana’ belonged to them as part of the mosque premises, emphasizing that neither the Vyas family nor any other entity had the right to perform worship inside the Tehkhana. In contrast, the Hindu side argued that the Vyas family conducted religious ceremonies in the basement until 1993. However, they ceased these activities in adherence to a directive issued by the state government.

Previously, AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi characterized the Varanasi court’s decision to permit Hindu devotees to offer prayers within the mosque complex as a “violation of the Places of Worship Act.”

He said, “The judge who gave the decision was his last day before retirement. The judge appointed the District Magistrate as receiver on January 17 and finally, he has directly given the verdict. He said that no prayers had been offered since 1993. It has been 30 years. How does he know there is an idol inside? This is a violation of the Places of Worship Act…He has ordered to open the grills within 7 days. 30 days should have been given to make an appeal. This is a wrong decision,”