Gyanvapi mosque complex: ASI again seeks more time to submit scientific survey report 

On Tuesday, the ASI sought an extension of three weeks, saying it needed more time for the assimilation of information generated by different experts, counsel for the Hindu side Madan Yadav said.
Gyanvapi mosque complex, in Varanasi.(Photo | PTI)
Gyanvapi mosque complex, in Varanasi.(Photo | PTI)

VARANASI:  The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Tuesday sought three more weeks from the district court here to submit the scientific survey report of the Gyanvapi mosque complex. The court will hear the plea on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the ASI sought an extension of three weeks, saying it needed more time for the assimilation of information generated by different experts, counsel for the Hindu side Madan Mohan Yadav said.

In its application, the ASI said that its experts are working on various types of data collected by archaeologists, surveyors and other experts, etc.

"Assimilation of information generated by different experts and different tools is a difficult and slow process and it will take some more time to complete the report for final submission. The court is therefore requested to give three more weeks to ASI to submit it," Yadav said quoting the application of the ASI.

The court has fixed November 29 for hearing the application for a time extension, he said.

The ASI has been conducting the survey in the barricaded area of the Gyanvapi mosque premises, excluding its sealed section, since August 4, following court orders.

A plea had sought a scientific survey of the Gyanvapi premises, located next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi, to determine whether the 17th-century mosque was constructed over a pre-existing structure of a Hindu temple.

However, the district court had granted 10 days’ time against the 15 days sought by the survey agency on November 17.

Varanasi district judge Dr AK Vishwesha had asked the ASI to submit the final report of the scientific survey conducted on mosque premises by November 28.

Notably, the Varanasi district court had ordered the ASI on July 21, this year to conduct a scientific survey on Gyanvapi mosque premises to ascertain if the mosque stood over a pre-existing Hindu temple structure.

The Allahabad High Court had also upheld the district court’s order on August 3. Since August 5, 2023, it has been the sixth occasion that the ASI has sought an extension to complete the survey and submit the final report. The Varanasi district judge will take up the ASI application for hearing on Wednesday. ASI’s fresh plea comprises the technical details consuming time and delaying the process of finalization of the survey report.

As per the standing government counsel (Government of India) Amit Srivastava, in the fresh plea, ASI mentioned that the survey experts were working hard to compile, interpret, and meticulously analysing data collected through various scientific studies and field observations. The exercise which required thorough crosschecking, verification, correlation and compilation of findings to finalise the survey report based on systematic studies conducted by various expert teams, was under process.

The plea also said that the process of correlating different types of data gathered by archaeologists, epigraphists, chemists, surveyors, geo-physics experts, etc in uniform manner was a time consuming. Amalgamation of information generated in different forms by different experts and different tools was a tedious and slow process. It would take more time for completion of the report and final submission, said the fresh application.

In compliance of the July 21 order of Varanasi District court, the ASI had started scientific study of Gyanvapi mosque on July 24. However, Anjuman Intezamia Masajid (AIM), the mosque management committee, had moved Allahabad High Court with a revision petition.

Consequently, the HC had halted ASI survey of the Gyanvapi mosque on July 24 afternoon. Later, after hearing both the sides concerned, the HC dismissed the objection of AIM against the district judge court order on August 3. Then the AIM moved to the Supreme Court against the HC order.

However, the Apex Court refused to stop ASI survey of Gyanvapi after which ASI resumed the survey from August 4. As ASI’s survey could not be completed by August 4, it moved the first extension application on August 5, followed by two more extensions on September 8 and October 5. After the end of the study and survey, ASI on November 2 and 17 had moved pleas seeking further extensions.

(With inputs from PTI)

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