Gyanvapi Mosque-Kashi Vishwanath Dispute: How It Started & Where It Stands Now

The Big Story

May 17 2022 • 20 mins

The decades-old Gyanvapi Mosque-Kashi Vishwanath dispute has sprung back in the news once again. While there are several chapters to this long-drawn dispute, which goes back as far as 1991, let's look at the recent developments first.

On Monday, 16 May, a Varanasi court directed for a spot within the mosque complex to be sealed after a court-appointed advocate commissioner, Ajay Kumar Mishra, made a sensational claim that a shivlinga was found in a pond during a videography survey.

This video assessment was ordered by the Varanasi civil court after a group of five women petitioners had sought a round-the-year access to pray at “a shrine behind the western wall of the mosque complex”.

But the Committee of Management of Anjuman Intezamia Masjid has been contending this order arguing that the court's directions are contrary to the provisions of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991 which specifically states that except for Ram Janmabhoomi–Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, the nature of all places of worship shall be maintained as it was on August 15, 1947.

As the matter came up before Supreme Court bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud on 17 May, the apex court order passed an interim order directing the District Magistrate to protect the area where the shivling was allegedly found but to not stop namaz.

But as the Gyanvapi Mosque-Kashi Viswanath issue flares up once again, the crucial legal questions around this dispute now are:

Firstly, can the Varanasi court order sealing of a spot within the mosque before the video assessment report was filed?

Secondly, does such a videography survey go against the Places of Worship Act? The Quint's Legal Editor Vakasha Sachdev will be analysing these questions for us.

And in this episode we'll also look at the timeline of the Gyanvapi Mosque-Kashi Viswanath dispute and where the matter stands so far.

Host and Producer: Shorbori Purkayastha
Guest: Vakasha Sachdev, Legal Editor, The Quint
Editor: Shelly Walia

Music: Big Bang Fuzz

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