The petitioner has contended that the Gyanvapi Mosque in Varanasi is a part of Vishveshwar Temple.
(Representative image: PTI)
The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board has said that it will challenge the Varanasi court order which directed the state government to conduct an archaeological survey of the Gyanvapi mosque, located next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple.
The order passed by a senior civil judge of the fast-track court in Varanasi told the Uttar Pradesh government to get the disputed premises by a five-member team of the Archaeological Survey of India at its expense.
The court was hearing a PIL filed which sought a survey to prove that the mosque was built by demolishing a temple in the 17th century during the reign of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.
As per a LiveLaw report, the court asked the ASI team to "find out as to whether the religious structure standing at present at the disputed site is a superimposition, alteration or addition or there is a structural overlapping of any kind, with or over, any religious structure".
If so, then what exactly is the age, size, monumental and architectural design or style of the same, and also as to which Hindu deity or deities the same was devoted to, it added.
Reacting to the Varanasi court order, UP Sunni Central Waqf Board in Lucknow said it will approach Allahabad High Court.
Waqf Board Chairman Zufar Ahmad Farooqui in a statement said, "Our understanding is clear that this case is barred by the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991. The Places of Worship Act was upheld by a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in the Ayodhya judgment."
The status of Gyanvapi Masjid is, as such, beyond question, he asserted.
"Even otherwise, we can say as per legal advice that the order of survey is questionable because technical evidence can only supplement certain foundational facts. No evidence has been produced before the court that suggests that there was a prior existing temple at the site of the mosque," he added.
Citing the 2019 Ayodhya judgment, he said that the ASI excavation was ultimately of no use as it did not find any proof that the Babri Masjid was built after the demolition of a temple.
The Supreme Court has specifically observed that there was no such evidence, he said, adding that this practice of mosques being 'investigated' by the ASI has to be stopped.
The petitioner has contended that the Gyanvapi Mosque in Varanasi is a part of Vishveshwar Temple. The court has also stipulated that at least two members of the five-member team of eminent archaeologists should be from the minority community.