By Suchitra Kalyan Mohanty
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the implementation of the Allahabad High Court order appointing a commissioner to inspect the Shahi Eidgah Masjid in connection with Mathura’s Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi dispute.
A two-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Sanjiv Khanna and also comprising Justice Dipankar Datta, told senior advocate Shyam Divan, who was appearing for Hindu bodies.
The bench said there are certain legal issues which have arisen and questioned the "vague" application made before the high court for appointment of a court commissioner for the survey.
“You can’t file a vague application for appointment of court commissioner. It should be very specific on the purpose. You can’t leave everything to the court to look into it,” the top court said, as quoted by PTI.
The top court bench noted that the issue of transfer of around 18 suits related to the dispute was also coming up, and that certain legal questions also arise for consideration in the matter. It, however, permitted the proceedings to continue before the high court while maintaining that a commission cannot be implemented for now.
“Issue notice. Tag with transfer matter, list on 23rd January. Proceedings before High Court can continue but commission cannot be executed till next date,” the bench ordered, according to Bar and Bench.
"We are staying the operation of the (Allahabad HC) order to the extent of the commission being executed," Justice Khanna said.
The bench also sought a reply from the deity Bhagwan Shri Krishna Virajman, and other parties on the plea of the mosque committee, asking them to file it by January 23, 2024.
The SC was hearing the petition of the Committee of Management, Trust Shahi Masjid Eiddgah against the Allahabad HC's December 14 order. The committee was represented by advocates Tasneem Ahmadi, Mehmood Pracha and RHA Sikander.
The Allahabad High Court had on December 14 last year agreed to an application filed by Hindu deity Bhagwan Shri Krishna Virajman, and other parties seeking the appointment of an advocate-commissioner to oversee the survey of the mosque. The HC's order was then challenged by the Mosque Committee before the apex court.
The Hindu side's application was part of an original civil suit pending before the Allahabad HC where they have claimed that the mosque was constructed by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb by demolishing a temple on 13.37 acres of Lord Krishna's birthplace. This is the main suit amidst around 18 pending suits filed.
Lawyer Tasneem Ahmadi, appearing for the Mosque Committee, told the apex court that the Allahabad HC ought to have considered its pending petition seeking rejection of the plaint filed by the Hindu parties before deciding on any other miscellaneous applications in the suit.
The Mosque Committee had sought rejection of the suit under the grounds of it being barred under the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, which does not allow change of character of religious places.
On May 26 last year, the Allahabad High Court had transferred to itself all the pending suits on the Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi-Shahi Eidgah Masjid dispute from various civil courts in Mathura. The Mosque Committee had filed a petition challenging that transfer as well.
The Hindu side has been seeking a direction to declare that the disputed land including the area which the Shahi Eidgah Mosque shares with the Katra Keshav Dev Temple belongs to Lord Shree Krishna. They seek the removal of the mosque and the restoration of the 13.37 acres of land.
(With additional inputs from PTI & Online Desk)