“We all wanted to exercise our right to worship the deity but the devotees were harassed. They (management of the Mosque) used to allow us only an hour to worship Maa Shringar Gauri even on the occasion of the full moon of Chaitra Navratri” Sita Sahu one of the petitioners in the case, revealed on May 18 that all the lady petitioners in the case have been regularly offering prayers to the deity of Maa Shringar Gauri and that they were harassed for entering the disputed structure.
Maa Shringar Gouri and Maa Annapurna hold great significance in the story of Kashi as they are both considered Adi Shakti and the darshan of Vishweshwar is considered incomplete without them.
16 August 2021 - One of 7 suits before Civil Judge Senior Division, petitioning the court to allow women to continue worshipping Maa Shringar Gouri on the western side of the current masjid. This civil suit made two prayers:
Sought clarification - Based on which administrative/executive order were Maa Shringar Gouri's darshan closed 32 years ago? (Previously devotees were able to avail darshan freely. Following the Babri Masjid incident, this darshan was arbitrarily closed for Hindus and only opened one day in the year - Chaturthi during Navratri.)
Sought permission to reinstate darshan for Hindu devotees.
No such prohibitive order was found on the books of the court. Since the darshan was not closed on account of any administrative/executive order, another order was not considered necessary to reopen it. Darshan was reopened earlier this year.
Let's wrap our heads around the fact that in Bharat, a supposedly Hindu majority country “an administration” still holds the authority over Hindus and Hindus only, to arbitrarily open-shut temples even in 2022 - An administration decides whether we can or cannot have the darshan of our deities!
18 August 2021 - Sec 75 Order 26 Rule 9-10 CPC Seeking survey of the entire premises by Advocate Commissioner (AC) The court heard arguments from both parties and issued the order for AC to survey the premises on 18 August 2021.
19 August 2021 re Settlement plot 9130 The appointed AC should be provided with police protection given the sensitive communal nature of the engagement and videography/photography should be done.
18 December 2021 - Formal objections to the survey order re plot 9130 made by the Masjid committee to the court order made on 19 August 2021. The objection was that police protection was requested with the original prayers and should have been requested had there been an untoward incident with the AC! Masjid committee demanded:
Recall the order to videography the premises,
Recall the police protection to AC; and
Additional objection - This order is barred under the Places of Worship Act 1991(PWA).
5 April 2022 - Having heard the arguments and the counterarguments, the Civil Judge Senior Division (CJSD), stated that to even effectively decide whether this is barred under PWA, a primary survey is necessary. This survey will primarily establish the nature and character of the property - This is not a final finding.
THE PLACES OF WORSHIP (SPECIAL PROVISIONS) ACT, 1991 ACT NO. 42 OF 1991 [18th September 1991.] An Act to prohibit conversion of any place of worship and to provide for the maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on the 15th day of August 1947, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
A mixed question of law and fact - This refers to a question which depends on both law and fact for its solution. In resolving a mixed question of law and fact, a reviewing court must adjudicate the facts of the case and decide relevant legal issues at the same time.
So the question here is - if someone usurped temple land and offered namaz there, on/after 15 August 1947, does that change the nature and character of that place?
In the case of Kashi which holds not just profound civilisational importance and has visible signs etched in stone - Where the very walls and pillars of the mosque bear witness to the destruction of the Devi-Devatas we’ve worshipped - What really is the character of nature and character of that property? What was the character of that property on 15 August 1947?
8 April 2022 - Original order reiterated and videography/photography and police protection for the AC approved as per original.
18 April 2022 - UP Government sought clarification on the above order, sighting law and order situation:
Who can enter the premises?
How many people from each side can enter?
What areas should be covered in the videography survey?
21 April 2022 - Masjid committee approached the High court outside of the due process to stop the survey proceedings > the High Court rejected their application. The High Court reiterated that these are not final findings but just the preliminary survey and upheld the original order passed on CJSD 18 August 2021.
26 April 2022 - CJSD reiterated the original order of 18 August 2021 as well as provided clarifications sought by the UP government on 18 April 2022. Begin the survey after Eid-ul-fitr.
Both parties and their lawyers can point to relevant places/items on the premises for the AC to consider > Submit the report on 10 May 2022.
Sashtang dandavats to everyone who continued the unbroken worship for decades.
I have no words.