Uttar Pradesh: A Varanasi district court has granted 10 more days to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to submit its scientific survey report of the Gyanvapi mosque complex.
The ASI was earlier given time till November 17 to submit the report but on Friday, its counsel sought 15 more days from the court.
On November 18, District Judge A K Vishvesh asked the ASI to submit its report by November 28.
It is to be noted that on November 2, the ASI had claimed before the court it had "completed" the survey but may take some more time to compile the report, along with the details of the equipment used in the survey work.
The court had then granted additional time till November 17 for submitting the document.
On October 5, the court had granted four more weeks to the ASI and said the duration of the survey would not be extended beyond this.
In an order on July 21, the district court had directed the ASI to carry out the survey on the premises of the 17th-century mosque, located next to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, to determine whether it had been constructed over a pre-existing Hindu temple.
The survey began on August 4 after the Allahabad High Court upheld the district court order, which gave the ASI time till September 4 to survey the entire complex except the ‘wuzukhana’ and submit its report.
The ASI, on September 2, filed an application in the Varanasi court seeking an extension of eight weeks to file the report as it needs time to remove debris covering the original features of the structure.
The Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, caretakers of the mosque, had opposed the application stating that the ASI was going against the court's orders by digging up the place.
The orders for the survey had been given taking on record an undertaking made on behalf of the ASI that no excavation work would be carried out at the site and no damage would be caused to the structure.
On August 4, the Supreme Court allowed the scientific survey at the Gyanvapi complex and rejected a plea by Anjuman Intejamia Masjid Committee Varanasi to stay the Allahabad High Court's August 3 order.
“We are unable to differ with the view of the high court….we reiterate the direction of the high court that there shall be no excavation,” the bench had then said.
The top court directed that the entire survey be carried out through non-invasive methods and also there should be no excavation or damage to the walls or structure of the mosque.
The high court had recorded a statement of a senior Assistant Director General of the ASI Alok Tripathi that no excavation at the mosque complex will take place.
The top court had declined to consider a contention that the survey was against the spirit of the Places of Worship Act, 1991 which mandated maintaining character of religious places as prevailed on August 15, 1947.