HC dismisses appeal challenging court order allowing ‘puja’ in Gyanvapi’s cellar

Pooja inside Gyanvapi mosque.

Lucknow: The Allahabad High Court has dismissed an appeal challenging a Varanasi court order allowing “puja” in the “Vyas Tehkhana” of the Gyanvapi mosque.

The high court has dismissed the Gyanvapi mosque management committee’s appeal challenging the Varanasi district judge’s January 17 order that appointed the Varanasi district magistrate as the receiver (caretaker) of the property (“Vyas Tehkhana”) and January 31 order by which it allowed “puja” in the “Vyas Tehkhana” or southern cellar of the mosque, lawyers said.

Earlier, following the district court’s order, the local administration had removed a portion of the boundary wall between the Gyanvapi and the Kashi Vishwanath temple and allowed the Vyas family and their priests to worship there. A window was opened for other Hindus to watch the puja from a distance.

Challenging the order in the high court, the Intezamia had argued that the basement was always a part of the mosque and that making any change to its character or use would violate the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, which stipulates status quo on any religious structure as it existed on August 15, 1947.

The Intezamia had claimed that the basement was empty when the district court passed its order, and that the petitioner and some priests had planted idols there with the help of members of the local administration on the night of January 31 and started the puja, as reported by The Telegraph.

Varanasi’s Mufti-e-Sheher, Maulana Abdul Batim Nomani, too had alleged that the government was using force to grab the Islamic structure.

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