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Varanasi court sacks official who ordered Gyanvapi mosque videography

Source: PTI
Last updated on: May 17, 2022 20:48 IST
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A Varanasi court, which had ordered the videography survey of the Gyanvapi Masjid complex, on Tuesday removed advocate commissioner Ajay Mishra for displaying "irresponsible behaviour towards the discharge of his duties", while it also granted two more days to the commission to file the survey report. 

IMAGE: Advocates and security personnel arrive at Gyanvapi Masjid complex, to resume a videographic survey in Varanasi, May 14, 2022. Photograph: PTI Photo

The removal order by district civil judge Ravi Kumar Diwakar came on an application moved by special advocate commissioner Vishal Singh, who informed the court that Mishra had "deployed a personal cameramen RP Singh who was giving wrong byte in the media on a regular basis"..

Mishra said he did not at all expect what happened on Tuesday. "The photographer I had hired, cheated me. I was cheated by the one I trusted. What can I do about that?"


In its order, the court said when any advocate is appointed as an advocate commissioner his position is that of a public servant and it is expected of him that he will discharge his duties with honesty and impartiality, and will not issue any irresponsible statement.

"Advocate commissioner Ajay Kumar Mishra showed irresponsible behaviour towards the discharge of his duties," it said. "The private cameraman deployed by Ajay Kumar Mishra, gave bytes to the media regularly, which is against judicial dignity."

"Hence, advocate commissioner Ajay Kumar Mishra is removed with immediate effect," it said, adding all the work of the commission after May 12 will be submitted by Vishal Singh.

Vishal Singh told PTI, "I had not submitted an application in the court to remove him (Ajay Kumar Mishra), but only to know what responsibility I have to discharge."

When told that Vishal Singh has accused him of non-cooperation, Mishra said, "Maybe he must have felt it. According to me, I have not done any non-cooperation."

Mishra also said, "The work of commission was conducted under the direction of Vishal Singh. Now only Vishalji's and my heart will know that whether I have co-operated with him or not."

Earlier, too, Mishra's appointment was opposed by the mosque committee which had accused him of bias. They had also sought his removal, but judge Diwakar had turned down their plea on Thursday.

The judge had, however, also appointed two more advocates -- special advocate commissioner Vishal Singh and assistant advocate commissioner Ajay Pratap Singh -- to help the court commissioner, and said the survey should be completed and a report filed on May 17.

However, Ajay Pratap Singh said the commission on Tuesday sought additional time from the court to submit the report as they have been able to ready just about "50 per cent of the report".

There was some delay in making the map of the area, he said.

"The court has granted two days' time to the commission to submit its report, and it is likely to be submitted to the court on May 19," he said later in the day.

Singh also said that during the court-mandated exercise underground rooms were surveyed and the locks of rooms for which keys were not available were broken. "They were videographed and photographed."

Asked about the wazookhana (a place for the ritual ablution) in the mosque complex, he said, "I cannot comment on it. But, definitely there was something due to which the Hindu side made a claim on it and the court gave its orders after taking its cognisance."

Earlier in day, Vishnu Jain, an advocate of the Hindu side, said they have filed another application before the court demanding that a survey be conducted on the area near the mosque's eastern part, facing a picture of Nandi.

"In front of it, there is a taikhana, which has a temporary wall and a garbage heap. It should be removed and a path be given towards the Shivling. Another survey should be conducted," he said.

When asked what the court's observation was on this, assistant advocate commissioner Ajay Pratap Singh said the court will hear the matter on Wednesday, with both the parties likely to argue over it.

He also informed that the district government counsel (civil) had also moved the court regarding feeding the fishes at the pond in the mosque complex and keeping them safe, and this is also likely to come up for hearing on Wednesday.

The court had on Monday ordered the sealing of a pond in the Gyanvapi Masjid complex after lawyers representing the Hindu petitioners claimed a Shivling was found there during the court-mandated videography survey.

However, a mosque management committee member disputed the claim, saying the object was part of the water fountain mechanism at the wazookhana reservoir where devotees carry out ablutions before offering the namaaz.

Anjuman Intezamiya Masjid Committee joint secretary Syed Mohammad Yasin had claimed the mosque management was not heard before civil judge (senior division) Ravi Kumar Diwakar issued the order.

The Supreme Court had on Friday refused to grant an interim order of status quo on the survey. The top court, however, agreed to consider listing the plea of a Muslim party against the survey.

Three court-appointed advocate commissioners, five lawyers each from the two sides and an assistant, besides a videography team, carried out the survey.

The mosque is located close to the iconic Kashi Vishwanath temple and the local court is hearing a plea by a group of women seeking permission for daily prayers before the idols on its outer walls.

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