By Shakilur Rahman
New Delhi, Nov. 19: The Varanasi district court on Saturday gave 10 more days to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to submit the scientific survey report of the Gyanvapi Masjid complex. ASI was earlier given time till November 17 to submit the report but on Friday its lawyer asked the court for 15 more days.
According to Hindu side’s lawyer Madan Mohan Yadav, ASI demanded for more time as the technical report was not received. Hearing the case on Saturday, District Judge AK Vishvesh asked the ASI to submit its report by November 28. The ASI conducted a scientific survey of the Gyanvapi complex, located next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi, to find out whether the 17th century mosque was built on the pre-existing structure of a Hindu temple.
The survey was launched after the Allahabad High Court upheld the Varanasi district court order and ruled that the move was “necessary in the interest of justice” and would benefit both Hindu and Muslim parties in the dispute.
After the court order, the survey work of Gyanvapi complex started, which continued for more than three months. The 40-member team of ASI took the help of many state-of-the-art equipment, including ground penetration radar system in the survey. Using new technology, a detailed report has been prepared by measuring the structures built in the Gyanvapi complex and its basements, including the dome and the top. Experts from Hyderabad and Kanpur also contributed to the survey. In the survey, digital mapping along with 3D photography and scanning has also been done.
On Nov. 2, the ASI had told the court that it had “completed” the survey but it may take some more time to compile the report with details of the equipment used in the survey work. After this the court gave additional time till November 17 to submit the documents.
On Oct. 5, the court had given four weeks more time to the ASI and had said that the period of the survey would not be extended beyond this. On Aug. 4, the court granted the ASI an additional month to complete the survey, extending its original deadline (from Aug. 4) to Sep. 4. It granted another four-week extension for survey work on Sep. 6.
During the previous hearing, the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee had objected to the survey, alleging that the ASI was digging in the basement as well as other places in the mosque complex without permission and accumulating debris on the western wall, due to which there can be a danger that the structure may collapse.
The mosque panel had said that the ASI team was not authorized to survey the premises by removing debris or garbage. Gyanvapi Committee had also gone to the Supreme Court against the order of the High Court. The apex court had on Aug. 4 refused to stay the high court order on the ASI survey.
In its order, a bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Mishra, however, asked the ASI not to take any aggressive action during the survey. It rejected any excavation, which the Varanasi court had said could be conducted if necessary.