A civil court in Varanasi on Thursday gave its approval for survey of Kashi Vishwanath temple and Gyanvapi Mosque complex by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The court further directed the Uttar Pradesh government to bear the cost of the survey.
The order was issued after a petition was filed by a local lawyer VS Rastogi who had demanded that the land entailing the Gyanvapi Mosque be restored to Hindus. The petitioner claimed that Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1664 pulled down a portion of the 2000-year-old Kashi Vishwanath temple to build the mosque in its place. The Gyanvyapi Mosque management committee had opposed the petition.
Anjuman Intazamiya committee in 1998, moved the high court contending that the dispute cannot be adjudicated by a civil court. Over this the high court did not pass an order in the matter and also didn’t stay the proceedings in the lower court. The first petition was filed in the Varanasi civil court in 1991 on behalf of Swayambhu Jyotirlinga Bhagwan Vishweshwar seeking permission for worship in Gyanvapi.
The matter gained attention in 2019 again as the Hindu side pursued the matter.
The petition contended that the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act was not applicable on the suit as the mosque was constructed over a partly demolished temple and many parts of the temple exist even today.
In February 2020, the petitioners approached the lower court again with a plea to resume the hearing as the high court had not extended the stay in the past six months.
The Gyanvapi mosque shares a boundary wall with Kashi Vishwanath temple.