SC declines to entertain PIL on Shahi Idgah-Krishna Janmabhoomi dispute | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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SC declines to entertain PIL on Shahi Idgah-Krishna Janmabhoomi dispute

Jan 05, 2024 12:35 PM IST

The PIL demanded an archaeological survey of Mathura’s Shahi Idgah Mosque and declaration of the site as Shree Krishna Janmabhoomi

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a public interest litigation (PIL) demanding an archaeological survey of Mathura’s Shahi Idgah Mosque and declaration of the site as Shree Krishna Janmabhoomi, noting that multiplicity of litigation was not proper when a bundle of civil suits on the issue was being adjudicated.

Suits in the case are pending before the Allahabad high court. (ANI)
Suits in the case are pending before the Allahabad high court. (ANI)

“Let’s not have a multiplicity of litigation. You filed it as a PIL, which is why it was rejected. File it as otherwise, the court will see,” said a bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta, pointing out that suits in the case were pending before the Allahabad high court.

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The lawyer appearing for the petitioner in the case argued that the PIL was rejected by the high court in October last because some suits remained pending on the issue. The Supreme Court maintained that entertaining the issue as a PIL was not maintainable.

The counsel, representing petitioner Mahek Maheshwari, added that the PIL also sought to challenge the validity of the 1991 Places of Worship Act, which protects the “character” of all places of worship existing as of August 15, 1947 (barring the Ram Janmabhoomi land at Ayodhya) and prohibits the filing of any lawsuits to alter the character of any place of worship.

The court replied the remedy to challenge the validity of the Act was left open by the high court in its dismissal order. “We are not inclined to interfere with impugned judgment and hence, the SLP [special leave petition] is dismissed. We clarify that the dismissal of the SLP no where comments on the right of parties to challenge the vires of any enactment or prevents or bars any party from challenging the vires of any enactment,” said the bench.

Maheshwari’s PIL contended that various texts had recorded the site in question as Shree Krishna Janmabhoomi land. The plea added that it was not a proper mosque because the Islamic jurisprudence does not sanctify a mosque on a forcibly acquired land whereas the Hindu jurisprudence reveres a temple even if it is in ruins.

Masjid is not an essential part of Islam, and therefore the Shahi Idgah Mosque should be razed and that land, allegedly Krishna Janmabhoomi, should be handed over to the Hindus, Maheshwari said. He pleaded that a proper trust for Krishna Janmabhoomi Janmasthan should be formed for building a temple on the land.

The Supreme Court is seized of a batch of petitions relating to the dispute.

The mosque management committee has challenged the Allahabad high court’s decision to transfer to itself all the suits pending before Mathura civil courts, besides assailing an order passed last month paving the way for a survey of the mosque premises by an advocate commissioner.

On December 15, the top court refused to stay the survey of the mosque abutting the Krishna Janmabhoomi temple. It noted the top court has fixed January 9 for considering the objections of the committee and UP Sunni Wakf Board to the high court order deciding to hear nearly 18 suits relating to the Krishna Janmasthan-Shahi Eidgah land dispute by transferring them to itself.

The mosque committee has argued that it did not have the financial wherewithal to defend the suits in the Allahabad high court, which is 600 kilometres away, and would prefer having it in Delhi located at a distance of only 150 kilometres.

The May 26 order by the high court came on a plea by Bhagwan Shrikrishna Virajman at Katra Keshav Dev Khewat Mathura (deity) through the next friend, Ranjana Agnihotri, who is also an advocate, and seven others. The next friend is a legal representative of someone incapable of maintaining a suit directly.

The petitioners had requested that the original trial be conducted by the high court as the matter involved is of national importance.

The mosque committee, in its petition before the top court, questioned the maintainability of the suits after a prolonged delay. It argued the suit is barred by the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act.

On July 21, the Supreme Court observed that it would be in the interest of all stakeholders if the matter is decided “at the earliest” because pendency in such “sensitive” cases creates “disquiet”.

Adding that it would lay down norms for hearing the clutch of suits related to the dispute, the court directed the high court registrar to send details of all such pending cases. It remarked that it would be more appropriate for a high court judge to apply his mind considering the complex nature of the case.

Multiple suits regarding the Krishna Janmabhoomi-Shahi Eidgah Mosque land dispute pending before various courts in Mathura have a common demand to reclaim the 13.37-acre land on which the mosque stands to be returned to the Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi Trust. The mosque abuts the temple. The suits have sought to annul a compromise between the mosque committee and Shri Krishna Janmasthan Seva Sangh in 1968 allowing the status quo.

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