Gyanvapi Mosque Case
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Gyanvapi Mosque Case

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 27-Feb-2024

Source: Indian Express

Introduction

In a significant ruling, the Allahabad High Court has upheld the right of Hindus to continue offering worship in the southern cellar of the Gyanvapi mosque, dismissing an appeal by the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee against the Varanasi district court's initial decision. This verdict marks a historical moment in the ongoing dispute over the religious character of the mosque, underscoring the principles of religious freedom and coexistence.

What is the History of Gyanvapi Case?

  • The roots of the Gyanvapi mosque dispute trace back to a suit filed by the Vyas family in September 2023, asserting their ownership of the cellar known as 'Vyasji ka tehkhana'.
  • They claimed possession of the property since 1551, with a history of routine prayers until the 1993 Uttar Pradesh government order, which barred religious activities in the cellar. The Varanasi District Court's ruling on January 31, permitting worship in the cellar, intensified the legal battle.

What were the Legal Arguments and Counterarguments on Gyanvapi Matter?

  • Mosque Committee:
    • The mosque committee contested the district court's decision, citing the 1937 Deen Mohammed case formally known as Deen Mohammad v. Secretary of State (1936), which declared the mosque as Hanafi Muslim Waqf property.
    • Mosque committee also argued that the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, preserved the religious character of places of worship as of 15th August 1947, making the court's findings in Deen Mohammed definitive.
  • Vyas Family:
    • In contrast, the Vyas family leveraged the absence of their involvement in the Deen Mohammed case, highlighting a map submitted by the Secretary of State for India, which delineated the cellar.
    • They contended that the state's order infringed upon their religious rights and altered the religious character of the tehkhana.

What are the Implications of the Verdict of Allahabad High Court?

  • The Allahabad High Court's interim ruling acknowledges the prima facie evidence of the Vyas family's continuous possession of the tehkhana until 1993.
  • It condemns the state government's actions since 1993, characterizing the restraint on religious practices as a sustained injustice.
  • This verdict not only safeguards the rights of Hindus to worship in the tehkhana but also raises broader questions about religious freedom and property rights.
  • It prompts reflection on the delicate balance between preserving historical religious sites and respecting the rights of all religious communities.

What can be an Easy Way Forward in Gyanvapi Case?

  • As the legal battle continues, it is imperative for all parties to prioritize dialogue and mutual understanding.
  • Respect for diverse religious traditions and adherence to constitutional principles should guide the resolution of such contentious disputes.
  • Collaborative efforts, grounded in empathy and respect, offer the most viable path forward in fostering communal harmony and social cohesion.
  • The religious battle must walk through the legal way like several other disputes concerning religion in Ram Janmabhoomi Case, Sabarimala Case and Triple Talaq Dispute.

Conclusion

The Gyanvapi mosque dispute serves as a microcosm of broader societal challenges surrounding religious pluralism and identity. The Allahabad High Court's verdict underscores the importance of upholding the fundamental rights of all citizens, irrespective of religious affiliation.