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Tue. Oct 4th, 2022
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NEW DELHI: The Varanasi district court on Monday rejected the plea questioning the maintainability of a petition seeking permission for daily worship of Hindu deities whose idols are located on an outer wall of the Gyanvapi mosque.
District Judge Ajaya Krishna Vishvesha looked at three Acts and said none bar the case. The court then said it would continue to hear the petition seeking the right to worship deities on the outer wall of the mosque complex located close to the Kashi Vishwanath temple.
The court fixed September 22 as the next date of hearing in the case.
Here are 5 key observations made by the court:

  1. To the arguments by the Muslim side that the disputed property is housed in the Gyanvapi mosque, the court said the plaintiffs are not claiming ownership over the disputed property. The plaintiffs are only demanding the right to worship Maa Shringaar Gauri and other “visible and invisible deities” which were being worshipped incessantly till 1993 and after 1993 till now once a year under the regulation of Uttar Pradesh. Hence the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, does not operate as a bar on this suit.
  2. The suit of the plaintiffs is limited and confined to the right of worship as a civil right, fundamental right as well as customary and religious right. They have not filed the suit for the declaration that the disputed property is a Temple.
  3. The defendants (Muslim side) had argued that the suit of the plaintiffs is bared by Section 85 of the Waqf Act, 1995, because the subject matter of the suit is a Waqf property and only a Waqf Tribunal in Lucknow has the right to decide this suit. The court said that it has come to the conclusion that the plaintiffs are “not Muslims” and are strangers to the Waqf created at the disputed property and the relief claimed in the suit is not covered under several sections of the Waqf Act. Hence, suit of the plaintiffs (Hindu side) is not barred by Section 85 of the Waqf Act, 1995.
  4. The defendants also argued that the suit of the plaintiffs is barred by the Uttar Pradesh Sri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Act, 1983. The court, however, said that the defendants failed to prove that the suit of the plaintiffs is barred by the Act
  5. The court also observed that the destruction of the idol does not result in the termination of the “pious purpose” and consequently the endowment. Even where the idol is destroyed, or the presence of the idol itself is intermittent or entirely absent, the legal personality created by the endowment continues to subsist. In this regard, the court referred to idol immersion and noted that it cannot be said that the pious purpose is extinguished due to immersion.

Five women had filed the petition seeking permission for daily worship of Hindu deities whose idols are claimed to be located on an outer wall of the Gyanvapi mosque.
The Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee has said the Gyanvapi mosque is a Waqf property and questioned the maintainability of the plea.
On May 20, the Supreme Court transferred the civil suit filed by Hindu devotees on Gyanvapi mosque from civil judge (senior division) to district judge, Varanasi, saying that the complexities and sensitivity of the issue warranted that a senior judicial officer having an experience of over 25-30 years handle the case.
In an important observation, the top court had said the process to ascertain the religious character of a place of worship is not barred under the Places of Worship Act of 1991.
(With inputs from agencies)

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