On Thursday, the Supreme Court directed the Masjid Intezamia Committee of the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi to file a case with the Allahabad High Court challenging the Varanasi District Court’s ruling permitting Hindus to offer prayers to gods within the mosque’s southern celler. The Masjid Committee’s attorneys contacted the Supreme Court Registrar to request an expedited hearing on their application to maintain the status quo at the mosque location.

The attorneys claimed that the Registrar informed them that Chief Justice DY Chandrachud of India had requested that they file an application with the High Court. The mosque committee, claiming that the administration was acting in “hot haste” following the Varanasi Court’s direction to perform the “Puja” at night, filed an urgent suit demanding status quo at the mosque site.

According to the application, the purpose of these late-night operations was to avoid a potential legal challenge by the mosque managing committee. The Hindu side was granted permission by the Varanasi district court on January 31 to pray in the Gyanvapi mosque’s southern cellar. Within seven days, the Varanasi district magistrate was instructed by the court to arrange for a “puja” to be done by a poojari selected by the Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Trust and the Hindu side.

Early in the morning, “puja” and “aarti” were conducted in accordance with the court’s order. The district court’s decision was made in response to Shailendra Kumar Pathak Vyas, the head priest of the Acharya Ved Vyas Peeth temple, who requested that Shringar Gauri and other visible and invisible deities be worshipped in the mosque’s basement. The scion of the family that did “puja” in this cellar till December 1993 is Vyas.

According to the appeal, priest Somnath Vyas, the grandfather of Vyas’s mother, used to pray there until the authorities shuttered the vault in 1993. According to the ASI survey, which the same court ordered in relation to a related case, the mosque was built on the ruins of a Hindu temple during Aurangzeb’s reign.