“An atmosphere of fear was created by making this simple civil case into an extraordinary case. The fear is so much that my family is always concerned about my safety and I am concerned about their safety. Concerns about safety are repeatedly expressed by my wife when I am out of the house,” Ravi Kumar Diwakar, the senior divisional civil judge in Varanasi who issued the order to survey the Gyanvapi mosque that had been built by Mughal king Aurangzeb over the ancient Kashi Vishwanath temple, said today. The judge made this comment in his court while rejecting an application filed by the Anjuman Islamia Masajid Committee (Respondent) to change the advocate commissioner appointed in the case to survey the mosque.
This Varanasi court had last month ordered an inspection of the premises on petitions moved by five Hindu women who had sought year-long access to pray at the Hindu shrine behind the western wall of the Gyanvapi mosque complex in the city in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
The court had earlier directed the authorities to submit a report by 10 May, but the survey could not take place as the mosque committee had opposed the videography inside the mosque. The surveyors were met with ruckus outside the Gyanvapi premises. The masjid committee members and other Muslims demanded that the survey and videography inside the mosque premises be stopped.
Thereafter, the Anjuman Islamia Masajid Committee filed the petition demanding the removal of Advocate Commissioner Ajay Kumar Mishra. Following three days of arguments, the Varanasi court ordered that the survey of the premises shall continue.
In its order, Judge Diwakar expressed his own concerns about the safety of his family and their anxiety over the safety of the judge. In the order, he said:
An atmosphere of fear was created by making this simple civil case into an extraordinary case. The fear is so much that my family is always concerned about my safety and I am concerned about their safety. Concerns about safety are repeatedly expressed by my wife when I am out of the house. Yesterday my mother (in Lucknow) during our conversation also expressed concerns about my safety, and from the news received by the media, she came to know that maybe I am also going to the spot as commissioner and my mother asked me that I should not go on commission on the spot, as it may endanger my safety.Judge Ravi Kumar Diwakar
The Varanasi court said that it was not justiciable to question the appointment of Advocate Ajay Mishra as the court commissioner as he had only conducted a partial survey of the premises pursuant to the court’s orders.
The Muslim side demanded that the court commissioner be changed as he was allegedly working under the pressure of the petitioners. However, the Muslim side could not prove in the court the basis of their allegation.
Refusing to remove Advocate Commissioner Mishra, who was appointed for the survey of the Gyanvapi masjid, the Varanasi court appointed two new commissioners, though — Vishal Kumar Singh and Ajay Singh.
In their arguments before the court, the five Hindu petitioners argued that the Muslim parties to the dispute did not allow the advocate commissioner to do videography and survey by on the other side of the barricading that is inside the Gyanvapi masjid and the basement. They said further that the Muslims prevented the officer from going inside the mosque and descending to the basement, claiming that there was no such order from the court.