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Gyanvapi survey: Varanasi court grants 10 more days to ASI to submit report

Nov 30, 2023 04:43 PM IST

The Varanasi court granted 10 more days to the ASI to complete Gyanvapi survey and submit report.

The Varanasi court on Thursday granted 10 more days to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to complete the Gyanvapi survey and submit its report, said standing government counsel Amit Srivastava, who filed the plea for the ASI, said.

Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi (HT File)
Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi (HT File)

The court of district judge Ajaya Krishna Vishvesha passed the order on ASI's plea seeking three weeks' time for submitting the Gyanvapi survey report. The ASI had filed the plea on November 28.

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The court completed the hearing on the plea on November 29.

“After taking into consideration all the facts, I find it proper to grant 10 days more time to the ASI to file the report in the court. This court expects that within the provided time, the ASI shall positively file the report and will not seek further time,” standing government counsel Amit Srivastava, who filed the plea on behalf of the ASI, quoted judge Ajaya Krishna Vishvesha as saying in the order.

The court fixed December 11 as the next date of hearing.

Why is ASI conducting Gyanvapi survey?

The ASI started the survey in the barricaded area of the Gyanvapi premises, excluding its sealed section, on August 4, following court orders to determine whether the 17th-century mosque was constructed over a pre-existing structure of a Hindu temple.

In its application, the ASI had stated that its experts are working on various types of data collected by archaeologists, surveyors and other experts, etc and assimilation of information generated by different experts and different tools is a difficult and slow process and it will take some more time to complete the report for final submission.

The ASI started the survey in the barricaded area of the Gyanvapi mosque premises – located next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi – excluding its sealed section, on August 4, following court orders.

On November 2, the ASI told the court it had "completed" the survey but may take some more time to compile the report, along with the details of the equipment used in the survey work. The court then granted additional time till November 17 for submitting the document.

But its counsel again sought 15 more days due to the non-availability of the technical report and Judge Vishvesh then asked it to submit its report by November 28.

On October 5, the court granted four more weeks to the ASI and said the duration of the survey would not be extended beyond this. It had earlier given extensions on August 4 and September 6.

The survey had begun after the Allahabad high court upheld the Varanasi district court order and ruled that the step was “necessary in the interest of justice” and would benefit both the Hindu and Muslim sides in the dispute.

During an earlier hearing, the mosque management committee had objected to the survey, alleging that the ASI was digging the basement and other places of the mosque complex without permission and accumulating debris on the western wall, posing a risk that the structure might collapse.

The ASI team was not authorised to survey the premises by removing debris or garbage, the mosque panel had said.

Gyanvapi committee moved Supreme Court

The Gyanvapi committee had also moved the Supreme Court against the high court's order. The apex court had, on August 4, refused to stay the high court's order on the ASI survey.

In its order, the bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, however, asked the ASI not to carry out any invasive act during the survey.

This ruled out any excavations, which the Varanasi court had said could be conducted, if necessary.

(With inputs from agencies)

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