The proceedings of some of the cases related to the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi were on Friday transferred to the Allahabad High Chief Justice Pritinker Diwaker, a month after the verdict in the matter was reserved by a different bench, reported Live Law.
No explanation has been given for the change, according to India Today.
The pleas before the High Court include a challenge to the maintainability of a suit filed before a Varanasi court, seeking the right to pray inside the mosque premises by Hindu devotees.
A bench of Justice Prakash Padia was also hearing a plea filed by the Anjuman Masjid Committee, the caretaker of the mosque, challenging a 2021 order of the Varanasi court to conduct an archaeological survey of the mosque complex to determine whether a Hindu temple was partially razed to build the Gyanvapi mosque in the 17th century, according to Live Law.
Justice Padia had been hearing the cases since August 2021. He had reserved the orders in the matter on July 25 and said that the verdict would be announced on August 28.
On Monday, as the matter was taken up by the chief justice, Senior Advocate SFA Naqvi, representing the Muslim side, raised his objection regarding the transfer of cases.
“We are confused,” Naqvi said, according to Live Law. “The judgement was reserved earlier, and today was the date for its delivery.”
He emphasised that there exists no directive to transfer the cases from Justice Padia to a new bench.
Naqvi also cited a 2006 judgement of the Allahabad High Court that said that a case partly heard by a judge has to be heard by that very bench itself. He, however, sought more time to examine the judgement.
Advocate Puneet Gupta, appearing for the Hindu petitioners, said that the chief justice can withdraw a case from a bench even after exhaustive arguments, if the judgement has not been delivered. He also added that it is an established fact that the chief justice is the “master of the roaster” and can decide upon the allocation of cases, according to Live Law.
The chief justice said that he would recuse himself from the case if the arguments made by the Muslim side satisfied him.
The case will be next heard on September 12.