The Archaeological Survey of India on Monday told the Allahabad High Court on a prima facie basis, that carbon dating of the purported “shivling” found inside the Gyanvapi mosque cannot be conducted as the procedure to determine the age of the object could damage it, reported Live Law.

The archaeological agency submitted that carbon dating was not possible as the object was a non-living thing that does not contain fossils.

The submission came on a petition by a group of Hindu litigants seeking the formation of an independent body to inspect the object inside the mosque, which they claim is a shivling, an idol to depict the Hindu deity Shiva. The Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, the caretaker of the mosque, however, claims that the object is a fountainhead in the wazu khana, or ablution tank.

On November 4, the Allahabad High Court had issued a notice to the archaeological agency asking it to file an affidavit on whether it is possible to conduct a scientific investigation of the object.

The Hindu plaintiffs had first approached a Varanasi court for permission to conduct carbon dating but it had turned down the plea on October 14, saying that any kind of survey within the mosque premises will be a violation of the Supreme Court May order to protect the area.

At Monday’s hearing, lawyer Manoj Kumar Singh, the counsel for the archaeological agency, told the High Court that an affidavit has not been filed but the director general of the body has expressed reservations about carbon dating.

The High Court then told Singh to rule out possibility of any damage to the object.

Singh said that other scientific techniques, besides carbon dating, can be used to determine the age of the object.

The counsel also told the High Court that the director general of the archaeological body has sought three months to give her opinion on whether the age of the object could be determined using other scientific methods.

The High Court, however, refused to grant the request and posted the matter for hearing on November 30.

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.