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Allahabad High Court Upholds Varanasi Court’s Decision Allowing ‘Puja’ in Gyanvapi Mosque’s Vyas Tehkhana

Allahabad High Court Affirms Varanasi Court's Decision on Worship Rights in Gyanvapi Mosque's Cellar.

In a significant development, the Allahabad High Court has dismissed the appeal filed by the Anjuman Intezamia Mosque Committee, which manages the Gyanvapi Mosque in Varanasi, challenging the Varanasi Court’s order permitting ‘Puja’ (worship) in the Vyas Tehkhana (southern cellar) of the mosque. The High Court’s decision effectively upholds the order issued by the District Judge on January 31.

The bench of Justice Rohit Ranjan Agrawal pronounced the verdict today, concluding the legal battle that ensued after the Varanasi Court’s ruling. The judgment was delivered 11 days after the bench reserved its decision following hearings from both parties involved.

The appeal before the High Court was lodged by the Mosque Committee on February 1, following the Supreme Court’s refusal to urgently hear their plea against the Varanasi Court’s order. The Mosque Committee contended that the Vyas Tehkhana was part of the mosque premises under their possession, emphasizing that neither the Vyas family nor any other party had the right to worship inside the Tehkhana.

The Committee argued that there had been no puja conducted in the Tehkhana since 1993, and questioned the rationale behind altering the status quo after three decades. They asserted that the Hindu plaintiff was never in possession of the Vyas Tehkhana, and the issue of possession should have been addressed through proper legal procedures.

On the contrary, counsels representing the Hindu plaintiff supported the Varanasi District Judge’s order, emphasizing that the permission for worship inside the Tehkhana was granted under Section 152 of the CrPC (Criminal Procedure Code). They maintained that Hindu religious practices had continued inside the Tehkhana, even after 1993 when the CRPF took possession of the property.

The dispute revolves around the Somnath Vyas Tehkhana inside the Gyanvapi Mosque premises, where religious ceremonies were allegedly conducted by the Vyas family until 1993. However, following a directive from the state government, these practices were discontinued.

The Varanasi District Judge’s order on January 31 paved the way for the worshipping of Hindu deities inside the Vyas Tehkhana, directing the district magistrate to facilitate the rituals through a nominated priest. This directive was promptly carried out by the Varanasi District administration, with officials ensuring compliance with the court’s instructions.

Despite the legal hurdles, the January 31 order has now been reaffirmed by the Allahabad High Court, marking a crucial chapter in the ongoing dispute over religious rights and property ownership in Varanasi’s historic Gyanvapi Mosque complex.

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