The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Varanasi district collector to hold a meeting for providing 'congenial' working arrangements for wazu (ritual ablution) for Muslim devotees at the Gyanvapi mosque complex.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government, informed a bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala that a meeting will be held on Tuesday and the direction for providing facilities for wazu on the premises will be implemented.
The court was hearing a plea by the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid committee, which manages the mosque, seeking permission for wazu inside the complex in Varanasi during the month of Ramzan.
The top court referred to its order of May 20 last year where it had directed that facilities for wazu and washrooms be provided to devotees following the sealing of certain areas inside the premises.
"The solicitor general assures the court that a meeting shall be convened tomorrow by the district collector so that a congenial working arrangement is provided," the bench noted in the order.
The bench also recorded the statement of the mosque management committee that it will be satisfied if even mobile toilets are provided.
The court has now posted the matter for further hearing on Friday and directed that the solution, if found in the meeting, can be implemented in the meanwhile and a formal order may be passed on the next date of hearing.
The apex court had on November 11 last year extended till further orders the protection of the area where a 'Shivling' was claimed to have been found.
Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the Masjid committee, requested the bench to take up the matter for hearing soon, saying the month of Ramzan is underway and adequate arrangements should be made.
He had said the water for 'wazu' is being drawn from a drum and the number of worshippers has increased in the month of Ramzan.
On March 28, the apex court had agreed to list for hearing on April 21 a plea of the Hindu side seeking consolidation of all suits filed in a Varanasi court pertaining to the Gyanvapi mosque complex row.
The bench had taken note of the submissions of lawyer Vishnu Shankar Jain that the district judge of Varanasi has deferred five times the decision on a plea seeking clubbing of all civil suits pertaining to the dispute.
The apex court had earlier allowed the Hindu parties to move an application before the Varanasi district judge for consolidation of all lawsuits filed on the Gyanvapi mosque-Shringar Gauri row.
It had also directed the Hindu parties to file their replies within three weeks to the appeal by the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid committee challenging the Allahabad High Court order on appointment of a survey commissioner.
On May 17 last year, the top court had passed an interim order directing the Varanasi district magistrate to ensure protection of the area inside the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri complex where the structure claimed to be a 'Shivling' was found during a video survey ordered by the court of the civil judge (senior division) in Varanasi.
The mosque committee, however, maintained the structure was part of the water fountain mechanism at the wazukhana, the reservoir where devotees performed ablutions before offering namaz.
The apex court had transferred the case to the district judge on May 20 last, pointing at the "complexities" and the "sensitivity" of the issue and saying that a more senior judicial officer should handle it.
In its May 17 last year order, the top court had directed protection of the area around the claimed 'Shivling' while also allowing Muslims to offer namaz in the mosque.
It had said the interim order shall remain in operation till the maintainability of the suit is decided by the district judge, and then for eight more weeks to allow the aggrieved parties to approach a higher court.
The Varanasi district judge is now hearing the plea by a group of women seeking permission for daily worship of idols of Hindu deities located on the mosque's outer wall.
The Hindu side has also sought a survey of two locked basements in the mosque complex.