NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday deferred the Allahabad High Court's on May 12 order to the Archaeological Survey of India to conduct a “scientific survey” of the 'Shivlingam', found inside the Gyanvapi mosque during the videography survey of the premises in May, 2022.
A bench led by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud said the matter would require closer scrutiny as Solicitor General Tushar Mehta also submitted that the government would find out if some alternative method than carbon dating could be available without causing any damage to the structure.
Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the mosque committee opposed the HC's order and questioned its validity.
In a significant development, the High Court has on May 12 ordered a “scientific survey” including cardon dating of the 'Shivlingam', which was claimed to be a fountain by the Muslim side.
Justice Arvind Kumar Mishra of the HC had overturned the earlier decision of a Varanasi court, that had rejected some Hindu women's contention. The district court had then said that it could ‘damage’ the structure which would be in violation of the Supreme Court order for safe keeping and preservation of the ‘Shivlingam’.
On a challenge made the Hindu women, the HC directed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to conduct a scientific investigation through carbon dating to ascertain the age of the ‘Shivlingam’ without causing any damage to it.
The court had earlier directed the ASI to file a report stating if the carbon dating of the ‘Shivlingam’ could be done without causing any damage to it.
Relying upon the ASI's report, the HC had noted that it made it clear that a scientific investigation can be made to the extent and purport without causing harm to the site / Shivlingam found at Gyanvapi.
The trial court, without collecting specific data/material from the able agency, had jumped to the conclusion that such an investigation will in all probability result in the destruction of the site/Shivlingam itself, it had said.
The HC found the reasonings of the district court as "presumptive", "assumptive" and arrived at without due diligence.
A revision application was filed against the Varanasi court's order of October 14, 2022 that had rejected Hindu sides' plea for conducting a scientific assessment of 'Shivlingam' found during a survey on May 16, 2022.
On behalf of Hindu women, advocates Hari Shankar Jain and Vishnu Shankar Jain had sought permission for prayer at the complex.
They contended when the Muslim side is describing the 'Shivlingam' as fountain, scientific investigation was required to be carried out for proper adjudication of the controversy.
They claimed that the district court has failed to exercise the jurisdiction and rejected the application on basis of "conjectures and surmises without appreciating the facts and law applicable in the case".
"The court below has presumed that any harm/damage may be caused to the 'Shivlingam' which is an article of faith for crores of devotees of Lord Shiva if Ground Penetrating Radar is allowed or any type of scientific investigation or carbon dating is conducted for making investigation," their plea said.
The women contended there was no doubt 'Shivlingam' is an article of deep faith for the devotees of Lord Shiva but there was no prayer made for making any scientific investigation which may cause any harm in any manner to it.
The judge had no material before him to form an opinion that if the scientific investigation was allowed, it could cause any harm or damage to the 'Shivlingam' particularly in the absence of any report submitted by ASI in the matter, they contended.
"The Archaeological Survey of India has sufficient means and mechanisms to make scientific investigation to know the nature and age of an artefact, monument, image, or any ancient article without causing any harm to the article required to be investigated," they submitted.