Gyanvapi case: District court decision ‘disappointing and saddening, says AIMPLB

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Gyanvapi mosque.

By Muslim Mirror Network

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) referred to the Varanasi district court’s ruling regarding the maintainability of the Gyanvapi mosque case as “disappointing” and urged the administration to fully enforce the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991.

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On Monday, the Varanasi district court rejected the mosque committee’s claim that the case was unmaintainable and decided to proceed with hearing a petition calling for daily worship of Hindu gods whose idols are housed on the Gyanvapi Masjid’s exterior wall.

AIMPLB General Secretary Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani described the district judge’s court’s preliminary ruling as “disappointing and saddening” in a statement.

In the middle of the Babri Masjid crisis in 1991, Rahmani said that Parliament had agreed to retain the status quo at all places of worship, with the exception of the Babri Masjid, as it was in 1947 and that any disagreement would be null and void.

He noted that the Supreme Court later made the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 mandatory after upholding it in the Babri Masjid case.

“But in spite of this, those who want to serve hatred and who do not care about the unity of this country, raised the issue of Gyanvapi Masjid in Varanasi and it is a pity that the district judge’s court ignored the 1991 law and allowed the petition,” Rahmani said.

“Now, this sad phase has come where the court has initially accepted the claim of Hindu groups and has paved the way for them. It is a painful thing for the country and the people,” he said.

He stated in a statement that the government should fully execute the 1991 law, bind all parties to it, and prevent a scenario in which minority become disenchanted with the legal system and believe all doors to justice are closed to them.

The Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee’s plea challenging the case’s maintainability was denied by District Judge A K Vishvesh, reigniting the conflict between the Kashi Vishwanath temple and the Gyanvapi Masjid.

Separately, the Allahabad High Court set Monday, September 28, as the day for its next hearing in a case involving a temple-mosque conflict that dates back to 1991.

The case in the Varanasi court rekindled claims that the mosque was erected on a portion of the Hindu edifice that had been partially destroyed on the orders of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. The mosque is situated close to the famous temple.

Five Hindu women had petitioned for permission to perform daily prayers in front of Shringar Gauri idols, and the Supreme Court had instructed the district court to first determine whether the matter was maintainable.

The mosque committee had petitioned the Supreme Court, arguing that their case could not be upheld because the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act of 1991 required that the character of such places of worship remain as it was at Independence. The Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute was the only exception made by the 1991 law.

In this case, where worshippers are requesting permission for daily worship of the idols they claim are already put there, the Varanasi district court has recently ruled that the 1991 Act does not apply. Their attorneys had argued that they are already permitted to do prayers there once a year.

The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, has been challenged as being unconstitutional in a petition that the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) filed with the Supreme Court earlier in July.

With the exception of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, the Congress government introduced a law on July 11, 1991, to maintain the “religious character” of places of worship as it was in 1947. The law’s legality is currently being challenged in the top court as a result of a petition filed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and attorney Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay last year.

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