After the 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 Sunni Central Waqf Board has decided to challenge it.
The chairman of Sunni Board Zufar Ahmad Faruqi said that the order of the Civil Judge, Varanasi, ordering a survey by the Archaeological Survey of India would be challenged before the High Court. 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 management committee of Gyanvapi mosque had opposed the petition.
Soon after the court verdict, the Sunni Board chairman said that this case is barred by the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991. The Places of Worship Act was upheld by a five judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in the Ayodhya judgment. He said that the status of Gyanvapi Masjid is, as such, beyond question. He however said that, as per legal advice, the order of survey is questionable because technical evidence can only supplement certain foundational facts. No evidence has been produced before the Court that suggests that there was a prior existing temple at the site of the mosque.
Faruqi said that even in the Ayodhya judgment, the ASI excavation was ultimately of no use. The ASI did not find proof that the Babri Masjid was built upon demolition of a temple and the Supreme Court has specifically observed that there was no such evidence. He said that this practice of mosques being ‘investigated’ by the ASI has to be stopped. 'We will be approaching the High court immediately against this unwarranted order’ said Faruqi.