The Allahabad High Court (HC) has slammed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) Director General (DG), V. Vidyavathi for her failure to file a reply, giving an opinion as to whether a safe evaluation of the age of the Shivling-like structure, purportedly found inside the Gyanvapi mosque complex in Varanasi in May last year, can be done or not.
Justice Arvind Kumar Mishra was hearing a revision petition filed by Laxmi Devi and three others, who challenged the Varanasi court’s order of October 14, 2022.
They had sought a HC direction to the ASI to conduct a scientific probe of the Shivling-like structure through carbon dating and ground penetrating radar (GPR).
Justice Mishra called the ASI official’s attitude “lethargic” and said inaction had hampered the court proceedings.
However, the court gave the ASI DG a last opportunity to file a counter-affidavit in the case by April 17, the next date of hearing.
The HC observed, “Certainly, this lethargic attitude on the part of the Director General, Archaeological Survey of India, is highly deplorable and such practice must be deprecated. The desired report has not been submitted as directed since November 2022.”
“A high authority holding post of Director General, Archaeological Survey of India, controlling particular administration all over the country must know the seriousness of the matter and ought to respect the orders of the court, primarily of higher courts,” the bench added.
The HC clarified that it will not permit any authority to occasion delay on the pretext of the submission of the desired report of the ASI.
Earlier, hearing the matter on November 5, the HC had issued a notice to the ASI, essentially asking the ASI DG, to give her opinion by November 21, 2022.
In its October 14 order, the Varanasi court had rejected Hindu worshippers’ plea for conducting a scientific probe of the Shivling-like structure, reportedly found inside Gyanvapi mosque complex on May 16, 2022.
The Hindu side has been calling the structure in question a Shivling, while the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, which manages the Gyanvapi mosque, has been terming it a fountain.
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