In a major development, the Allahabad High Court on Friday ordered for transfer of all the cases related to Krishna Janmabhoomi pending before the Mathura court to itself, while exercising its suo motu power for trial.
A single bench of Justice Arvind Kumar Mishra also allowed a transfer petition filed by Bhagwan Shrikrishna Virajman and seven others through advocates Hari Shankar Jain, Vishnu Shankar Jain, Prabhash Pandey and others.
"As many as 10 suits are stated to be pending before the civil court and also there should be more suits that can be said to be pending and issue can be said to be seminal public importance affected the masses beyond tribe and beyond communities having not proceeded an inch further since their institution on merits for past two to three years, provides full justification for withdrawal of all the suits touching upon the issue involved in the suit from the civil court concerned to this court under Section 24(1)(b) Civil Procedure Code.
While allowing the plea for transfer of one suit, the court exercised its suo motu power for the rest of the suits of similar nature, by withdrawing it from the lower civil court concerned and transferred those to the High Court.
The court ordered the District Judge, Mathura to prepare a list of all such cases of similar nature involving the subject matter and forward it to the High Court for transfer within two weeks.
It also requested the Chief Justice to nominate an appropriate bench for trial and disposal of such suits.
The plea was originally filed in the lower court -- the court of civil judge senior division -- on September 25, 2020 by Lucknow-resident Ranjana Agnihotri, and others as the "next friend of Bhagwan Sri Krishna Virajman".
They had claimed in the plea that Shahi Idgah Masjid is constructed on a part of 13.37 acre land belonging to the Sri Krishna Janam Bhoomi Trust. They had demanded the mosque be removed and the land returned to the Trust.
They also contended that the Shahi Idgah Mosque had been built by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb after demolishing a part of the Shri Krishna Janam Bhoomi.
They have also challenged the 1968 agreement between the Shahi Idgah Mosque Committee and the Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi Trust allowing the Mosque to continue to exist and use the land on which it was situated.
They also claimed entire birth place of Lord Krishna and sought removal of encroachment of superstructure built as Shahi Idgah masjid over there.
During the hearing, U.P. Sunni Central Waqf Board and Trust Shahi Masjid Eidgah opposed the plea for transfer of suits.
It is to be noted that suits related to Ram Janam Bhoomi at Ayodhya was also transferred for trial before the High Court vide on July 10, 1989, which was decided on September 30, 2010. Subsequently, the Supreme Court on November 9, 2019 decided the matter in favour of Hindu side.
In the instant case, the court noted that the history of 'Karagar' (jail) of Kans wherein Lord Krishna incarnated in human form, is sacred and divine for the Hindu devotees. It is a deity worshiped by the Hindu devotees. The 'Karagar' of 'Kans' at present is located beneath the alleged Shahi Eidgah Masjid. It also said various complicated questions are involved here and called for adjudication, including interpretation, validity and applicability of Places of Worship Act 1991, interpretation and applicability of Waqf Act 1995, rights of Hindu deity under Hindu Law and under Article 25 of the Constitution and interpretation of Article 25, 26 and 300 A of the Constitution India.
"Moreover, it involves adjudication on point of birth place –'Asthan', as deity, the rights and duty of Shebait under Hindu Law and rights of Hindu devotees where Shebait has been negligent and the property of the deity has been alienated/transferred against the law, decree obtained by fraud and challenged by Hindu devotees, adjudication upon distinction between Waqf and Trust, and apart from all above point of applicability and interpretation of law of adverse possession," it said.
The Muslim side, for their part, said if transfer appellation is allowed, it would be opening pandora box and would lead to similar move in every case pertaining to religious places. They also contended that in the matter of Kashi Vishwanath Temple dispute, the Supreme Court on May 20, 2022 transferred the proceeding of the original suit to the District Judge, Varanasi.
They also said it would cause inconvenience to witnesses to travel to Prayagraj for recording evidence.
Dealing with their contentions, the High Court said there is no bar in the law that the HC cannot try suit if it is withdrawn from civil court or transferred to it.
With regard to their argument of losing their right of filing theappeal before the High Court, the bench said all procedures are merely handmade of the justice, the ultimate aim is to provide speedy
The court also rejected their plea that Ram Janam Bhoomi case was transferred as the suit could not be decided in 40 years.
"The facts disclose that it was on account of religious sentiments, general of tensions between two communities and to preserve amity brotherly relations, the application was moved and not on account of fact that the matter was not decided for 40 years," the bench said.
So far as the inconvenience to witnesses was concerned, the bench said, the Order 18 Rule 4 CPC provides for recording evidence and it is for the court to record evidence either itself or by commissioner appointed by it.
"With the advancement of the technology and impetus being provided to e-judiciary, physical presence of the witnesses can be done in the manner and mode as per discretion available with this Court trying the suit and it can be recorded through audio – video link," the bench said.