Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh: On March 20, the Allahabad High Court granted another extension to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to file its report on whether a safe evaluation of the ‘Shivling’ found in the Gyanvapi complex can be done. The Court has posted the matter for hearing on April 5.
Justice Arvind Kumar Mishra-I said that the Court has already given a time extension to the ASI for obtaining advice from other agencies. Furthermore, he said that the time extension application is working against the interest of justice.
The revisionist’s counsel “regretted that the exercise could not be completed within eight weeks that was accorded to the Archaeological Survey of India. However, looking to the gravity of the matter, consultation with other agencies is indispensable.” However, the revisionist’s counsel opposed the plea arguing that ASI was given 8 weeks to submit the report in January and “to seek further time would be nothing but to prolong the matter for no sanguine reason.”
The Court observed, “Under facts and circumstances of the case, it is expected that the Archaeological Survey of India may take appropriate steps to arrive at some conclusion qua carbon dating, ground penetrating radar, excavation and other methods in compliance of the order passed by this Court.”
The Court said, “The time extension application has already been given in the garb of obtaining advice from other agencies. Further time should not be sought by the Archaeological Survey of India as the Archaeological Survey of India may take advice as it thinks appropriate by embarking upon process which would expedite the matter because the issue on merits has been kept pending since long for obtaining report of the Archaeological Survey of India which time extension application is working against interest of justice and it should not be allowed to go on any further from 05.04.2023.” Furthermore, the Court said that the other agencies which have been sought to tender advice, whether at Roorkee, Kanpur Nagar or somewhere else, would take up the case without unnecessary delay.
The Court was hearing a review petition filed by Lakshmi Devi and three others, challenging the Varanasi district court’s order of a ‘scientific survey’ of the purported Shivling, which is claimed to be a part of the fountain of the wazu khana by the mosque management. The subordinate court has rejected the application for conducting a scientific survey given the status quo order issued by the Supreme Court.