The Varanasi court on Tuesday removed the Advocate Commissioner it had appointed initially to oversee the videographic survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex, stating that he had been “highly irresponsible” in executing the work.
The court also extended the deadline for submission of the survey report by two days to May 19.
The removal of Advocate Commissioner Ajay Kumar Mishra came on an application filed by Vishal Singh, the Special Advocate Commissioner. Singh was appointed by the court last Thursday for the survey following allegations of bias levelled by the mosque committee against Mishra.
In his application to Civil Judge (Senior Division) Ravi Kumar Diwakar, Vishal Singh alleged that Mishra and Assistant Advocate Commissioner Ajay Pratap Singh, who was also appointed last week, were not cooperating in the survey — and that a private cameraman with Mishra was “giving bytes” to the media.
“Special Advocate Commissioner Vishal Singh has given this application seeking clarity on the situation… It is clear that the private cameraman of Advocate Commissioner Ajay Kumar Mishra constantly gave bytes to the media, which is completely against judicial conduct,” the court said in its order.
The order stated that the court has removed Mishra with “immediate effect”, and that Assistant Advocate Commissioner Ajay Pratap Singh has been directed not to do anything independently, and work under Vishal Singh.
It stated that Vishal Singh will file a report on work done by the commission after May 12, when he was appointed.
Earlier, Mishra and Ajay Pratap Singh apprised the court that they were fully cooperating in the survey. But Vishal Singh submitted that Mishra’s “personal cameraman” was giving “wrong statements” to the media — and hence was kept out of the commission’s work on Monday.
In its order, the court stated that when a lawyer is appointed as advocate commissioner and executes the functions of a commission, he is in the position of a public servant and expected to execute the work with honesty, in an unbiased manner, and not make any irresponsible statement in public.
Speaking to reporters about his application on Ajay Kumar Mishra, Vishal Singh said: “The impartiality of the commission was being questioned. Action has happened so that no question is raised on its fairness.” The survey report will be filed in two days, he said.
Mishra, however, told reporters that he was “paying the price for honesty” and claimed that he had not done anything to hamper the commission’s work.
Mishra was appointed by the Varanasi court on April 8 to carry out the survey of the disputed site, “prepare videography of the action” and submit a report. Subsequently, the mosque committee had filed an application in the court, accusing him of being “biased”.
Meanwhile, three of the five women petitioners in the case filed an application before the Varanasi court seeking measurement of the Shivling, which is claimed to have been found during the videographic survey of the mosque area.
They also appealed for the survey to cover more area, and removal of debris and walls from the area.
Hearing the application filed by Rekha Pathak, Manju Vyas and Sita Sahu, the court asked for objections, if any, to be submitted by Wednesday when the case is likely to be heard.