The Allahabad High Court on Friday issued a notice to the Archaeological Survey of India, asking it to file an affidavit on whether it is possible to conduct a scientific investigation of the purported shivling found in the Gyanvapi mosque complex as claimed by Hindu plaintiffs, Live Law reported.

The Hindu side had wanted an independent body to inspect the object inside the mosque, which they claimed was a shivling. However, the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, the caretaker of the mosque, claims that the object is a fountain in the wazu khana, or ablution tank, and not a symbolic representation of the Hindu deity Shiva.

On October 14, the Varanasi court had said that any kind of survey within the mosque premises will be a violation of the Supreme Court order from May, which had ordered for the area to be protected.

The court passed the order on a petition filed by the Hindu side on September 22. They had sought carbon dating of the object.

Carbon dating is a scientific method used to determine the age of an archaeological object.

On Friday, a single-judge bench of Justice JJ Munir gave its decision while hearing the petitions challenging the October 14 order. The court will hear the case next on November 21.

The Gyanvapi case

In May, a Varanasi civil court had allowed for a video survey of the mosque, which found that an oval object was present on the premises. Based on the plaintiff’s submission, the civil court ordered the area where the oval object was found to be sealed.

When the mosque committee appealed against the civil court order, the Supreme Court, on May 17, directed that the object found during the survey be protected.

It also transferred the case to the district court in Varanasi, ordering it to decide first on the maintainability of the suit under Order 7 Rule 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, which lays down the conditions when certain pleas will be barred.

On September 12, District Judge AK Vishvesha dismissed the mosque committee’s application and held that the petitioners’ plea to worship Hindu gods was maintainable and could be heard further.

The judge accepted the argument by the Hindu plaintiffs that they did not want to convert the religious nature of the mosque. The court said that the Hindus only wanted to worship the deities inside the mosque complex, something they did incessantly till 1993 and once a year after that.

Following the September 12 verdict, one of the Hindu plaintiffs in the case filed a caveat in the Allahabad High Court, urging the authorities to hear her if the mosque committee moves a revision plea against the Varanasi court’s order.