Allahabad High Court Dismisses Plea Challenging Hindu Prayers In Vyas Tehkhana Of Gyanvapi; Puja Rituals To Continue

Allahabad High Court Dismisses Plea Challenging Hindu Prayers In Vyas Tehkhana Of Gyanvapi; Puja Rituals To Continue

Justice Rohit Ranjan Agarwal dismissed appeals presented by the Anjuman Intezamia Mosque Committee, challenging the district court's directives concerning the "Vyas Tehkhana" or southern cellar of the mosque.

BISWAJEET BANERJEEUpdated: Monday, February 26, 2024, 06:39 PM IST
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In a momentous decision, the Allahabad High Court on Monday affirmed the district court's stance, allowing the continuation of worship in the southern cellar of Varanasi's Gyanvapi mosque.

Justice Rohit Ranjan Agarwal dismissed appeals presented by the Anjuman Intezamia Mosque Committee, challenging the district court's directives concerning the "Vyas Tehkhana" or southern cellar of the mosque.

The High Court's pronouncement upheld the Varanasi district court's order on January 17 and January 31, designating the district magistrate as the receiver of the cellar and granting permission for the performance of "puja" (worship) in that space, respectively.

Justice Agarwal, in his statement, declared, "After a comprehensive review of the entire case records and due consideration of arguments from all involved parties, the court found no grounds to overturn the district judge's orders."

The verdict follows a period of deliberation, with the High Court judge reserving judgment on February 15 after hearings from both sides.

The Anjuman Intezamia Mosque Committee, responsible for overseeing the management of the Gyanvapi mosque, had sought recourse from the high court on February 2 after the Supreme Court redirected them to pursue legal remedies at the high court level.

'A significant victory for Sanatana Dharma'

The district court's decision on January 31 allowed a Hindu priest, nominated by the Kashi Vishwanath temple trust, to conduct prayers before the idols in the southern cellar of the mosque. This decision came after the petitioner Shailendra Kumar Pathak, claimed his grandfather's legacy of performing rituals in the cellar until December 1993 and demanded that his family shpuld be allowed to continue that Puja.

In response to the court's ruling, Advocate Prabhash Pandey said, "The judge dismissed the pleas filed by the Muslim side against the District Judge's order, thereby affirming the continuation of Puja activities. This verdict is a significant victory for Sanatana Dharma. While the Muslim side reserves the option for a review, Puja will persist."

Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain, representing the Hindu side, asserted, "Today, the Allahabad High Court has dismissed the initial appeal against the orders of Anjuman Intezamia. Should they pursue recourse to the Supreme Court, we are prepared to present our caveat before the apex court."

The protracted dispute over the cellar's use traces back to historical claims and counterclaims. Pathak's side emphasizes ancestral rights over the cellar, while the Muslim side disputes the presence of idols and questions the petitioner's control over the space.

The Varanasi court had earlier, on January 17, instructed the district magistrate to assume control of the cellar without specifying directives regarding prayer rights.

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