In a significant development, the Allahabad High Court has dismissed the appeal filed by the Anjuman Intezamia Mosque Committee, upholding the Varanasi District Court’s decision to allow ‘Puja’ in the ‘Vyas Tehkhana,’ the southern cellar of the Gyanvapi Mosque. The bench of Justice Rohit Ranjan Agrawal pronounced the verdict after considering arguments from both parties.

The appeal stemmed from a January 31st order by the Varanasi District Judge, permitting the performance of religious rituals inside the cellar. The dispute revolves around the ownership and usage of the Tehkhana, historically used by the Vyas family for religious ceremonies until 1993. The court’s decision to allow the puja has been a subject of contention, with the Mosque Committee asserting its ownership and control over the premises.

The High Court’s decision reinforces the District Judge’s ruling, which directed the District Magistrate to oversee the worship rituals within the cellar, appointing a priest nominated by the Kashi Vishwanath Trust Board and the plaintiff. This move has sparked debates regarding religious rights and property ownership, further intensified by the involvement of governmental authorities.

The legal battle saw arguments from both sides, with the Mosque Committee emphasizing its possession of the Tehkhana as part of the mosque premises. They raised concerns about the change in the status quo after three decades and questioned the court’s basis for appointing a receiver and allowing religious activities inside the cellar. However, the Hindu plaintiffs argued in favor of the District Judge’s order, asserting that religious practices had continued within the Tehkhana even after 1993.

The Varanasi District Administration’s compliance with the court order on January 31st marked a crucial step in the implementation of the decision. The District Magistrate, along with government officials, entered the mosque complex to oversee the arrangements for the puja, indicating adherence to the court’s directives.

Prior to this, on January 24, 2023, the District Administration had assumed possession of the southern cellar within the mosque complex, following the District Judge’s appointment of the DM as the receiver on January 17. These actions reflect the judicial and administrative efforts to address the dispute and ensure compliance with legal mandates.

The implications of this ruling extend beyond the immediate parties involved, touching upon broader issues of religious freedom, property rights, and judicial intervention in matters of faith. The decision underscores the judiciary’s role in adjudicating complex disputes while balancing competing interests and upholding constitutional principles.

As the legal proceedings continue to unfold, stakeholders on both sides await further developments, mindful of the broader societal and legal ramifications of this contentious issue. The verdict sets a precedent for future cases involving similar conflicts between religious communities and underscores the importance of legal mechanisms in resolving such disputes in a fair and equitable manner.

In conclusion, the Allahabad High Court’s dismissal of the appeal reaffirms the Varanasi District Judge’s decision to permit puja in the Gyanvapi Mosque’s southern cellar, highlighting the complexities inherent in adjudicating matters of faith and property rights within a legal framework.

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