Eight persons including Lord Krishna Virajman (through a representative) have filed a suit in Mathura's city court seeking the removal of the Shahi Idgah, a 17th-century structure that is situated adjacent to the Shri Krishna temple complex at Mathura, Uttar Pradesh. The devotees have sought the recovery of land to the tune of 13.37 acres.
An Eidgah is an open-air enclosure used by the Muslims to offer special prayers on the occasion of two Eids.
This suit is similar to the title dispute case involving Ram Lalla (Lord Ram as a minor). Last year, the Supreme Court settled a centuries-old dispute between Hindu and Muslim factions which began in 1528 with the construction of the Babri Masjid on the site considered to be the birthplace of Lord Ram. The title dispute ended in November 2019 when the top court ruled in favour of Ram Lalla.
The suit filed in Mathura on September 25 through advocate Vishnu Jain says the Committee of Management of Trust Masjid Idgah entered into an "illegal compromise" with the Society Shree Krishna Janamasthan Seva Sangh in October 1968 by "playing fraud upon the court" and the deity to encroach on the land belonging to Lord Krishna.
"The Shree Krishna Janmasthan Seva Sansthan is working against the interest of the deity and devotees and fraudulently entered into a compromise with the Committee of Management of Trust Masjid Idgah (Trust) in 1968 conceding a considerable portion of property belonging to the deity and the trust," the petition said. In 1974, the Court of Civil Judge, Mathura approved "the terms of compromise", it added. The petition also seeks the "cancelling of this judgment".
Construction of Shahi Idgah a show of religious might
The petition submits that Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, who ruled over India between July 31, 1658 – March 3, 1707 AD, "issued orders for the demolition of a large number of Hindu religious places and temples". The temple standing at the birthplace of Lord Krishna was one of the those that Aurangazeb allegedly destroyed in 1669-70. "The army of Aurangzeb partly succeeded to demolish Keshav Dev Temple and construction was forcibly raised showing the might of power and said construction was named as Idgah Mosque," the petition read.
Krishna Janmasthan has religious and cultural heritage
According to the petition, Lord Krishna's birthplace is a "religious and cultural heritage" in India. It is "an object of worship for the devotees" and devotees believe that by "offering worship at that place are the recipients of the bounties and blessing of Lord Krishna and also acquire merit to get salvation."
The deity's birthplace in Mathura has been "a place for pilgrimage by the devotees coming from different parts of India and abroad". The petition further adds that "Hindu Kings from time to time had constructed/renovated temple at birthplace of Shree Krishna in Katra Keshav Dev. In 1618 Raja Veer Singh Deva Bundela of Orchha built/renovated the temple of Lord Shree Krishna at birthplace in Katra Keshav Dev by spending Rs.33 lakhs."
The petition further submits that according to the Hindu Law prevalent in India "from thousands of years", it is "well recognized that the property once vested in the deity shall continue to be the deities property and property vested in the deity is never destroyed or lost and it can be regained and re-established whenever it is freed, found or recovered from the clutches of invaders, ultras or hoodlums."
46 years delay, a challenge
The petition seeking to reclaim Lord Krishna's birthplace has been filed 46 years after a city court approved the "compromise" between the Trust and the Management.
"As per article 59 of the Limitation Act, you can file a plea within three years from the date of knowledge and as per section 44 of the Evidence Act, a decree obtained by fraud can be challenged anytime. No question of delay," Jain said speaking to Boom.
However, the delay is not the only challenge to this suit. The 1991 Places of Worship (Special Provisions Act), passed while the title dispute matter concerning the Babri Masjid and Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya sought to protect all religious structures as they existed at the time of India's independence in 1947. The Ayodhya issue was exempt from this.
According to this act, conversion of mosques and temples (and vice versa) is banned. In its 2019 verdict, the Supreme Court had relied on this act to maintain the "religious character" of the structure at the time of independence.
Earlier this year in July, Jain, who filed this plea on behalf of the devotees, moved the Supreme Court earlier this year challenging the constitutional validity of the provisions of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions Act).