On Friday, the Supreme Court ordered to hold the scientific investigation of the Shivling inside the Varanasi Gyanvapi complex, a week after the Allahabad High Court ordered the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to conduct a scientific study of the Shivling to determine its age.
The order was made following a special leave petition filed by the Anjuman Islamia Masjid committee, which looks after the Gyanvapi Mosque in Varanasi, against the Allahabad High Court’s order on May 12 that ordered the scientific survey of the Shivlinga to determine its age. The bench that made the decision included Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice PS Narasimha, and Justice IN Viswanathan.
The bench ordered that the execution of the instructions in the High Court’s order be postponed until the next hearing date of the petition. The Masjid Committee’s senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi stated that the survey processes will start on Monday of next week. Meanwhile, Tushar Mehta, the Indian Solicitor General, spoke on behalf of the State of Uttar Pradesh and highlighted his worries about potential structural damage.
“Since the implications of the impugned order merit closer scrutiny, the implementation of the directions concemed in the order shall stand deferred till the next date,” the bench noted in the order.
According to Ahmadi, the High Court issued the decision despite the fact that the judgement on the petition the Masjid Committee filed contesting the suit’s maintainability has been on hold since December 2022. He said that the order was made the day after the ASI report was delivered to the Court on May 11 without providing the Mosque Committee enough time to submit specific concerns.
According to the ASI study, the survey may be completed without harming the structure, said attorney Vishnu Shankar Jain, who is representing the Hindu plaintiffs in the case. He has asked the court to order the report in this regard. The ASI in its report said that while direct dating of the Shivling is not possible, and the age can only be determined through proxy dating of materials that can directly correlate with the establishment of the Shivling if it is there.
ASI said that a small portion of an embedded layer seen on the top of the Shivling can be used for radiocarbon dating without causing any harm to the Shivling, which will give an idea of the age of the Hindu religious symbol.
On May 12, the Allahabad High Court ordered the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to use contemporary scientific methods to inspect the Shiving that has been discovered inside the Gyanvapi Mosque premises in Varanasi in order to determine its age.
The order was passed by the bench of Justice Arvind Kumar Mishra-I while allowing a revision plea moved by 4 women Hindu worshippers challenging the Varanasi Court’s October 14 order wherein the court had rejected their plea. The High Court mandated that the procedure be carried out under the District Judge of Varanasi’s supervision. The responsible ASI official was ordered to appear before the trial judge on May 22 to request the proper guidance for completing the scientific study of the construction.
A request for a scientific investigation of the Shivling was filed previously before the Varanasi Court in September 2022, but it was denied in light of the Supreme Court’s decision to safeguard the location where the Shiva Linga was allegedly discovered on May 17, 2022.
The Anjuman Islamia Masjid committee requested a survey of the entire Gyanvapi mosque premises by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to determine whether the mosque had been built over an earlier structure of the Hindu temple. On May 16, the Varanasi District Court granted the committee until May 19 to file their reply or objection, if any.