A district court in Mathura has permitted the Revenue Department to inspect the Shahi Idgah mosque complex in a new petition challenging the ownership of the 13.77 acre land on which the Idgah is built, bringing the Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi-Shahi Idgah Masjid dispute back into the spotlight.
Sonika Verma, a senior civil judge, has ordered the Amin (a representative of the revenue department), to “inspect” the property and submit a “report along with a map” by January 20, the next hearing date.
The instruction was given in response to a complaint made by the Hindu Sena against the Intezamia Committee, which oversees the Idgah, in the name of the god Bal Krishna. In court documents, the Hindu Sena’s founder Vishnu Gupta is listed as the deity’s next of kin.
The Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi Sthal, where Lord Krishna is thought to have been born, is just opposite to the Idgah.
The Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi case was currently in court in Varanasi when the Mathura development took place.
The Varanasi district court appointed Advocate Commissioner Ajay Kumar Mishra to conduct a Gyanvapi site assessment on April 8 of this year. In addition to submitting a report, he was told to “produce videography of the activity.” The Supreme Court had delegated the case to a senior judge despite declining to halt the survey’s directive. The district court further mandated that the Archeological Survey of India “track as to whether any Hindu temple ever existed before the in question mosque was built, overlaid, or added upon at the disputed site.” The Allahabad High Court is hearing a case challenging that order.
District Judge Rajeev Bharti in Mathura granted a petition by the Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi Trust and other private parties seeking ownership of the property on which the Shahi Idgah Mosque is constructed. Judge Bharti effectively referred the civil lawsuit to a lower court for a trial by accepting that plea.
1991 law & discussion
All places of worship, with the exception of the one in Ayodhya, must keep its original characteristics, according to the Places of Worship Act of 1991, which was passed during the heyday of the Ram temple campaign. But by permitting surveys in Varanasi and now Mathura, the courts have opened the door for a review of the Act itself, which is also being challenged.
The court will have to make a decision regarding the legality of a 1968 “compromise agreement” between the Trust Masjid Idgah and Shri Krishna Janmasthan Seva Sansthan, the temple management authority, which is a registered society under the law, in which the temple authority gave the Idgah the disputed portion of land.
Advocate Ranjana Agnihotri and six other people initially brought a claim on the god’s behalf before a civil judge in 2021. Since none of the petitioners were from Mathura and so could have a legitimate stake in the matter, the civil judge dismissed the argument, ruling that it could not be maintained. Judge Bharti accepted the petition when there was an appeal of the ruling.
Different petitioners have submitted at least 12 cases to the Mathura courts. The prayer for the mosque to be removed from the 13.77-acre complex, which it shares with the Katra Keshav Dev Temple, runs across all of the petitions.