The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to hear a new petition seeking permission to worship the ‘Shivling,’ which was discovered in the Gyanvapi mosque premises in Varanasi during a court-ordered survey. The petition also requested “Carbon Dating” of the ‘Shivling’ to determine its age.
Radiocarbon dating ( also referred to as carbon dating or carbon-14 dating) is a method for determining the age of an object containing organic material by using the properties of radiocarbon, a radioactive isotope of carbon.
A bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli took note of lawyer Vishnu Shankar Jain’s submissions that the plea be listed for hearing on July 21 alongside the pending petition of the ‘Anjuman Intezemia Masjid Committee,’ which manages the affairs of the Gyanvapi mosque.
Another court, led by Justice D Y Chandrachud, has taken up the mosque committee’s petition, which challenges the survey of the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri complex, where the ‘Shivling’ is said to be located, and has scheduled a hearing for July 21. The Masjid Committee’s appeal opposing the commission survey is also set to be heard on July 21.
The Supreme Court consented to hear the case alongside the Masjid committee’s case, which is being considered by a bench led by Justice Chandrachud.
Later, the bench transferred the civil suit filed by Hindu devotees against the Gyanvapi mosque from civil judge (senior division) to district judge, Varanasi, stating that due to the “complexities” and “sensitivity” of the issue, it is preferable that this case be handled by a senior judicial officer with over 25-30 years of experience.
The bench also stated that its earlier interim order of May 17 directing the protection of the area where ‘Shivling’ is said to be found and allowing Muslims to offer ‘Namaz’ in mosque premises would remain in effect until the district judge decided the suit’s maintainability, and then for eight weeks to allow the aggrieved parties to approach the higher court.
Last week, a petition was filed with the Supreme Court asking permission to perform puja during the current month of Shravana and exercise the constitutionally protected rights to “freedom of conscience and free profession, practise, and propagation of religion.”
Rajesh Mani Tripathi, President of the Shri Krishan Janm Bhumi Mukti Dal, filed the petition.
Five ladies filed a petition asking permission to worship Hindu deities whose idols are installed on the mosque’s outer wall, but the Muslim side urged the court to dismiss the case. Following that, a court-ordered videography survey of the complex was conducted, resulting in the discovery of what the Hindu side said was a shivling.
The Supreme Court transferred the case to the District Judge in Varanasi on May 20. However, in its May 17 interim ruling directing protection of the ‘Shivling,’ the Supreme Court stated that free access to Muslims for offering namaz should be maintained for eight weeks following the district judge’s decision in the matter.
Case Title: Rajesh Mani Tripathi vs State of Uttarpradesh and Others