Refrain from publishing news on survey at Gyanvapi without formal info: Court

Aug 11, 2023 12:23 AM IST

The court also ordered ASI officials involved in the exercise not to share any information about the ongoing survey with the media

VARANASI: The Varanasi district court on Thursday ordered the media — print, social and electronic — to refrain from publishing any news regarding the ongoing scientific survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex without any formal information, people familiar with the matter said.

The ASI survey is being done on court orders (File photo)
The ASI survey is being done on court orders (File photo)

The court also ordered the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) officials involved in the exercise, besides the plaintiffs, defendants, their advocates, district government counsel (civil) and other officials not to share any information about the ongoing survey with the media.

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District judge Ajaya Krishna Vishvesha passed the order on an application filed by Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, which manages the 17th-century mosque, seeking an order to stop the media from “publishing, disseminating false and wrong news about the survey” being conducted by the ASI on Gyanvapi premises.

“If the print media, social media or electronic media wrongly publishes any news regarding the survey without formal information, despite no information being provided by the ASI, plaintiffs and the defendant’s side, then necessary action may be taken against them as per the law,” the court said in its order.

“It is ordered to all the ASI officials, who are involved in the survey, that they will neither give any information regarding the survey to media, nor will they share the information regarding the survey with anyone else, and they will submit the report before the court,” it added.

SM Yasin, the joint secretary of the mosque committee, hailed the order. “We welcome the order passed by the honorable district judge after hearing our application,” Yasin added.

The application was filed through by the mosque committee through its counsel — Mumtaz Ahmad, Akhlaque Ahmad and Rais Ansari — on August 8.

The ASI survey is being done on court orders and no ASI official has given any statement regarding the proceedings, and yet social, print and electronic media were disseminating “false and wrong news” in an arbitrary manner about portions (of the mosque) where the survey has not yet been conducted, said Mumtaz Ahmad.

“It is necessary to stop social, print and electronic media from publishing and disseminating wrong/false news about the survey for maintaining peace and avoiding ill-effects on the mind of public,” he added.

Manbahadur Singh, counsel for the Hindu side, on Wednesday opposed the mosque committee’s application, saying it is a very big case. “People want to know about this matter. Therefore, media should not be stopped from coverage,” Singh argued in the court.

Saurabh Tiwari, another counsel for a Hindu plaintiff, said that under Article 19(1) of the Constitution, “the media has the freedom to publish news”.

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