SC refuses to stay Hindu prayers at Gyanvapi mosque, orders ‘status quo’
   Date :02-Apr-2024

Gyanvapi mosque
THE Supreme Court on Monday refused to stay the Hindu prayers in the southern cellar of the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi even as it ordered a “status quo” on the religious observances by both the Hindu and Muslim sides inside the mosque premises. The court was hearing a fresh plea of the Gyanvapi mosque management committee against an Allahabad High Court decision upholding a lower court’s order allowing Hindu prayers in the southern cellar of the mosque. The top court noted that both the Muslim and Hindu sides have been conducting their respective religious observances “unhindered” inside the mosque premises and, therefore, a status quo would serve the ends of justice for now. A bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud also sought the response of priest Shailendra Kumar Pathak Vyas by April 30 on the plea of the mosque committee.
“Bearing in mind the fact that the namaz is offered by the Muslim community unhindered after the orders dated January 17, 2024 and January 31, 2024, and the offering of pooja by Hindu priest is confined to the area of tehkhana, it is appropriate to maintain status quo so as to enable both the communities to offer worships in the above terms. “The religious observances by the Hindus shall be in terms of directions contained in the order dated January 31, 2024... Status quo as obtained from the above terms shall not be disturbed without obtaining the previous sanction and leave of this court,” the bench, also comprising justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, said. The apex court, after seeing the Google Earth images of the structures, noted that the entry to the cellar is from the southern side while the entry to the mosque for the purposes of offering namaz is from the steps on the northern side. At the outset, senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, sought a stay on the civil court’s order and submitted that puja was being allowed to take place within the mosque premises.
Ahmadi said this will only fester some discord. “History has taught us some other lessons where violence has happened despite assurances. This is an egregious order. Communities have lived peacefully. Why this insistence on having this now? For 30 years the situation has been very normal,” he submitted. Ahmadi alleged that Hindu parties filing multiple applications for different reliefs and there is serious apprehension that bit by bit the Muslim side will lose out the whole mosque. Referring to the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, Ahmadi said, “We are in your hands and we know what happened at Ayodhya and despite of interim orders the mosque Babri Masjid could not be protected. This is what history taught us.” Senior advocate Shyam Divan, representing the Hindu parties, submitted that the orders do not warrant any intervention by the apex court at this stage as there are detailed reasons in the trial court and the High Court orders.