On May 19, the Supreme Court of India directed to put on hold, the Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI) survey of the ‘Shiva Linga’ found in the Gyanvapi premises. It is pertinent to note that while the Hindu side claims the structure found in the wazukhana is a ‘Shiva Linga’, the Muslim side is claiming it is a fountain.
The Supreme Court said, “Since the implications of the impugned order merit closer scrutiny, the implementation of the directions concerned in the order shall stand deferred till the next date.” The Supreme Court was hearing the Anjuman Islamia Masjid committee’s plea against the Allahabad High Court’s May 12 order directing the scientific survey to ascertain the age of the ‘Shiva Linga.’
The Muslim side’s counsel Senior Advocate Hufeza Ahmadi submitted that the survey is scheduled for Monday and contended that it should not be done while the Supreme Court is on vacation, which is scheduled to begin on May 22.
Thereafter, the Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud asked the Uttar Pradesh Government’s counsel Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, ‘whether the court should examine the issue carefully?’ The Solicitor General assented and said that there should be no damage to the structure which one side claims to be a ‘Shiva Linga’ and the other claims to be a fountain.
The Supreme Court, with the Solicitor General’s assent to conducting a careful examination, deferred the survey till the next date stating that the implications of the Allahabad High Court’s order merit closer scrutiny.
However, the Hindu side’s counsel Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain submitted that 4 experts from ASI have informed that the structure will not be damaged at all. However, the CJI replied that there are certain implications attached to carbon dating of the structure while placing reliance on the Solicitor General’s submissions.
Further, the Solicitor General submitted that new technology might be found in the meanwhile. Though, Vishnu Jain submitted that ASI’s reports could be called for. However, the CJI said that let the UP Government and the Government of India consider the situation and the options, highlighting that these are matters where one has to tread very carefully.
Allahabad High Court’s Order Allowing Scientific Survey
On May 12, the Allahabad High Court directed the ASI to conduct a scientific survey of the ‘Shiva Linga’, using modern techniques, to ascertain its age. The court was hearing a revision plea challenging the Varanasi court’s October 14 order refusing the carbon dating and scientific investigation of the ‘Shiva Linga.’
The ASI submitted its report to the Allahabad High Court, informing the court that the carbon dating of the ‘Shiva Linga’ is not possible and only its upper part, the binder, can be carbon-dated. The ASI informed the court about the methods which can be incorporated to ascertain the age of the ‘Shiva Linga’ which was found inside Gyanvapi premises.
The ASI report submitted that just a small amount (about 10 gm) of the binder will be scratched about for dating the ‘Shiva Linga’, however, it would only tell the age of the binder and embedment of the top portion. However, through this method, it can be inferred that the ‘Shiva Linga’ is older than the binder.
The ASI submitted that while the direct carbon dating of the ‘Shiva Linga’ is not possible, the age can be ascertained with proxy dating of materials surrounding it which can directly correlate with the establishment of the ‘Shiva Linga.’ “For an object of religious significance such as Shiv Lingam or for that matter any other object or symbol made of stone etc, we have to get the dates from the surrounding sediments and items,” the ASI report read.