A civil suit has been filed in a court in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, on behalf of Hindu deity Bhagwan Shri Krishna Virajman, seeking the removal of the Shahi Idgah adjacent to the Shri Krishna temple complex, the Hindustan Times reported on Saturday. The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board and the Committee of Management of Trust of Shahi Idgah have been arraigned as defendants.

The suit has been filed by a person called Ranjana Agnihotri, a resident of Lucknow. She has sought recovery of 13.37 acres of land situated within the area of the temple.

The suit claims that the trust, with the help of some members of the Muslim community, erected the mosque by encroaching upon the area of the temple. It asserts that the birthplace of Krishna lies underneath the structure the trust has built.

The suit also claims that the Shri Krishna Janmasthan Seva Sansthan, which is the governing body of the temple complex, entered into an illegal agreement with the Shahi Idgah trust with the intention of land-grabbing. “The Shree Krishna Janmasthan Seva Sansthan is working against the interest of the deity and devotees and fraudulently entered into a compromise with the Committee of Management of Trust Masjid Idgah in 1968 conceding a considerable portion of property belonging to the deity and the trust,” the suit said.

A civil judge in Mathura had passed a judgement on a suit regarding the alleged compromise between the Krishna Janmasthan Seva Sansthan and the trust, on July 20, 1973. The judgement prohibited any alterations to the structures. The present suit has asked for this judgement to be cancelled.

“This suit is being filed for removal of encroachment and superstructure illegally raised by Committee of Management of alleged Trust Masjid Idgah with the consent of Sunni Central Board of Waqf on land Khewat No.255 at Katra Keshav Dev, city Mathura belonging to deity Shree Krishna Virajman,” advocates Hari Shankar Jain and Vishnu Shankar Jain told The Times of India.

However, the 1991 Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act protects all religious structures as they existed at the time of Independence with the exception of the disputed site at Ayodhya. Therefore, a mosque cannot be turned into a temple or vice versa. A Hindutva group has already filed a plea in court through Vishnu Shankar Jain challenging the 1991 law, as it prohibits Hindu deities from reclaiming the land on which temples existed before their demolition by Muslim rulers.

The Ayodhya case

In a landmark verdict on November 9 last year, the Supreme Court had ruled that the disputed land in Ayodhya would be handed over to a government-run trust for the construction of a Ram temple. The court said that the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992 was “an egregious violation of the rule of law” and directed the government to acquire an alternative plot of land to build a mosque.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke ground on the temple on August 5 in an elaborate ceremony. On August 20, the Ram Janmabhoomi Trust said that the construction of the temple has begun and would be completed within three to three and a half years.