The Karnataka high court has directed a court in the coastal city of Mangaluru not to pronounce its verdict on maintainability of a suit that seeks to survey a local mosque.

© Provided by Hindustan TimesThe Karnataka high court has directed a court in the coastal city of Mangaluru not to pronounce its verdict on maintainability of a suit that seeks to survey a local mosque. (HT Photo)

The 3rd additional civil court in Mangaluru is hearing a suit by TA Dhananjaya and BA Manoj Kumar claiming that a “temple-like architecture” was discovered during renovation of Assayed Abdullahi Madani mosque in Malali, Thenka Ulipady village near Mangaluru.

They have sought a survey of the mosque to verify this claim.

Senior advocate Vivek Reddy, appearing for the same petitioners in the HC, argued that there should be a survey by a court-appointed commissioner and a report based on it, but the lower court should not be allowed to decide on the maintainability of such a case. If the suit in the lower court is dismissed on maintainability, there were chances of the structures inside the mosque being removed or destroyed, he argued.

The single-judge bench of the high court of justice Sachin Shankar Magadum issued notice to mosque authorities and directed the lower court not to pronounce its verdict on the maintainability of the suit and adjourned the hearing to June 17.

The lower court had earlier directed mosque authorities not to remove the contested structures.

On 31 May, a counsel for the mosque had made a submission before the third additional civil court to quash the VHP petition under provisions of the Places of Worship Act, 1991. The VHP, in a fresh plea before the court, has sought a court-appointed commission to study the “temple-like structure”.

Advocate Chidananda Kedilaya, representing the VHP, demanded the third additional civil court should appoint a commissioner and order the contested site’s survey. He also said the court commissioner can be assisted by the archaeological department.

The case was filed following a controversy that erupted after a “temple-like structure” was noticed during demolition as part of the renovation of the mosque last month.

According to police, photographs of what appears to be a “kalasha” (spire), “tomara” (pillar) and poles resembling a temple were circulated on the social media soon after the front portion of the mosque was demolished for renovation work undertaken by mosque authority.

Elaborating on how the controversy started, a senior police officer had said some earthmovers were deployed at the mosque to bring down its front portion as part of the renovation process.

“During the process, an alleged temple-like structure came to some people’s notice. JCB workers deployed at the mosque might have clicked photographs of the structure and shared them online,” the senior police officer had said requesting anonymity.

After the controversy erupted, the VHP performed “Tambula Prashne” rituals, saying it would prove “whether a temple existed at the spot”. The VHP also roped in Kerala-based astrologer GP Gopalakrishna Panicker to conduct the rituals.

Tambula Prashne is a ritual wherein a person approaches an astrologer with a query while offering a small gift, consisting of betel leaves and coins. The ritual is popular among the local Hindu populace.

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