The top court, however, directed the authorities to ensure that there should not be any restriction or hinderance on the number of Muslims entering the mosque complex for offering namaz or any other religious ritual.
Gyanvapi mosque row: Live updates
The bench was hearing a plea of the committee of management Anjuman Intezamia Masjid, which manages the affairs of Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi.
“The area where Shivling is found shall be protected. The order shall not in any manner restrict or impede the entry of Muslims to mosque for namaz or religious observances,” the top court.
The SC order overruled a trial judge ruling allowing entry to only 20 Muslims to enter the mosque for namaz.
A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and P S Narasimha also declined a request to stay further proceedings before the Varanasi trial court till the next date of hearing.
The apex court issued a notice to the plaintiff on whose plea the trial court had ordered the survey of the mosque and posted the matter for further hearing on May 19.
On Monday, a local court had ordered the sealing of a pond in the Gyanvapi complex after lawyers representing the Hindu petitioners said a Shivling was found there during the court-mandated videography survey.
A mosque management committee member disputed the claim, saying the object was part of the water fountain mechanism at the “wazookhana” reservoir – where devotees carry out ablutions before offering namaz.
(With inputs from agencies)