Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Varanasi HC allows Hindu Prayers in Gyanvapi Premise


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : Gyanvapi Premise



  • The Varanasi District Court has issued an order permitting Hindu prayers to be conducted in the southern cellar of the Gyanvapi mosque complex, a decision met with both support and opposition.
  • This development comes amid ongoing legal disputes concerning the worship rights at the site.

Allowing Prayers: Court’s Ruling

  • Prayers Allowed: The Varanasi District Court has directed the district administration to facilitate the resumption of puja (worship) within the disputed southern cellar of the Gyanvapi mosque complex within seven days.
  • Background: The order followed an application filed by Shailendra Kumar Pathak, the priest of the Acharya Ved Vyas Peeth temple, seeking worship rights for visible and invisible deities in the basement of the mosque.

Reaction and Legal Challenges

  • Legal Challenge: The Anjuman Intezamia Committee of Gyanvapi Masjid, advised by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), intends to challenge the court’s decision in the Allahabad High Court.
  • AIMPLB’s Stance: AIMPLB criticized the court’s ruling as “totally unacceptable” and drew parallels to past disputes like the opening of locks at the Babri Masjid in 1986. They expressed concerns about the targeting of old mosques after the establishment of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.

Historical Perspective

  • Prior Worship: The petitioner claimed that Hindu priests associated with the Vyas family used to perform daily rituals in the cellar before 1993 when it was discontinued by government orders.
  • Contested Claims: A member of the Anjuman Intezamia committee contested the assertion, stating that there had never been any puja conducted in the cellar.

Ongoing Legal Proceedings

  • Next Hearing: The next hearing on this matter is scheduled for February 8, allowing the defendants, including the Anjuman Intejamia Masajid Committee that manages the Gyanvapi mosque, to file objections.
  • Parallel Legal Challenge: Another order by the Allahabad High Court concerns a revision application challenging the Varanasi district judge’s refusal to direct the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to conduct a scientific survey of the mosque’s wazukhana area.

Concerns and Historical Parallels

  • Ethical Concerns: The decision to permit puja in the Gyanvapi mosque’s basement raises ethical questions and concerns about religious rights.
  • Parallels to History: AIMPLB sees parallels between recent developments and past disputes, raising concerns about historical patterns of targeting old mosques.


  • The Varanasi District Court’s ruling allowing Hindu prayers in the Gyanvapi mosque’s southern cellar has ignited both legal challenges and discussions about religious rights and historical parallels.
  • The case continues to be a subject of significant debate and legal scrutiny.

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