Civil judge (senior division) Ravi Kumar Diwakar, who had previously rejected a petition by the mosque management to replace advocate commissioner Ajay Kumar Mishra, said he was doing so now because the latter had failed to act responsibly and engaged a private photographer to do the videography for the court-mandated survey. The photographer, identified as R P Singh, allegedly leaked “wrong facts” of the survey on Monday and was thereafter dropped from the team.
“A person assumes the role of a public servant on being appointed as advocate commissioner,” the court said. “It was expected that the advocate commissioner would perform his duty impartially and honestly, and avoid issuing irresponsible statements in public… It has become clear that the photographer engaged by him kept giving media bytes, which is totally against judicial decorum.”
Mishra contested the charges, insinuating that special advocate commissioner Vishal Singh “betrayed” him. “Vishal Singh is a good advocate, but I had never expected him to make a complaint against me. The survey took place in accordance with his guidelines. He can better explain in what way I didn’t extend cooperation to him.”
Since the commission couldn’t submit its survey report as scheduled on Tuesday, the court directed the special advocate commissioner to do so on Thursday. Civil judge Diwakar said Singh would compile the findings of the court-appointed commission post-May 12. Assistant advocate commissioner Ajay Pratap Singh was directed to work under Vishal Singh and not do anything independently. Both had been appointed while hearing the mosque management’s petition to remove Mishra.
Tuesday’s court proceedings started with the special advocate commissioner reporting that the advocate commissioner and the assistant advocate commissioner weren’t taking interest in the survey. He alleged that at least one private photographer engaged by Mishra had been illegally giving media bytes on the survey. He then sought more time to submit the survey report.
The hearing saw heated arguments between lawyers representing the five plaintiffs seeking the right to unhindered daily worship of Hindu deities along the wall of the Gyanvapi complex and the counsel for Anjuman Intejamia Masajid (AIM), which manages the mosque. AIM’s lawyer Abhay Nath Yadav objected to the “style and nature of statements” issued by several people since the completion of the Gyanvapi survey on Monday. He said such remarks could potentially disrupt peace and amity.