Daily Brief: More than interesting buildings, it is a city’s public spaces that affect the lives of people, and more

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A view of the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi. | Sanjay Kanojia/AFP

A district court on Wednesday allowed Hindus to offer prayers in the sealed basement of the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi. An Archaeological Survey of India report has claimed that a Hindu temple at the site of the mosque was destroyed in the 17th century.

The mosque has four cellars in its basement. One of them is owned by the Vyas family of priests who used to live there. They argued that, as hereditary priests, they should be allowed to offer prayers in that space.

The court directed that arrangements be made to begin the recitation of Hindu prayers there within a week. The order was given by District Judge Ajay Krishna Vishwesha on the day of his retirement. More on Scroll. 

A file photo of Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar | AFP

A residents welfare association in Delhi’s Jangpura Extension area has issued a notice to Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar and his daughter Suranya Aiyar, accusing her of hate speech for criticising the Ram temple in Ayodhya.

On January 20, Surana Aiya said in a post on social media, “ I condemn…what is being done in the name of Hinduism and nationalism in Ayodhya.” She said that she would fast for three days to protest the consecration of the temple.
The residents’ group has asked Mani Shankar Aiyar to “condemn” his daughter’s “rant” or move out to another colony. Read on.

The building of the Punjab and Haryana High Court | Punjab and Haryana High Court's website

The Punjab and Haryana High Court declined to order fresh mayoral polls in Chandigarh after a petition by an Aam Aadmi Party councillor alleged fraud in the election. The Chandigarh administration has been asked to respond to the petition in three weeks. 

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Manoj Sonkar had defeated Kuldeep Kumar, a joint candidate fielded by the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress, to become Chandigarh’s new mayor on Tuesday.
This result came after the presiding officer invalidated  eight INDIA bloc votes.  The move triggered protests by Aam Aadmi Party and Congress leaders. More on Scroll.

The Bombay High Court | Wikimedia Commons

The Bombay High Court delivered a split verdict on the validity of amendments to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2023. The amendments allow a government-notified fact-checking unit to tag Union government-related information as “fake news” if it claims it is inaccurate.

Justice Gautam Patel struck down the amendments in favour of the four petitioners but Justice Neela Gokhale dismissed the pleas. They were filed by stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra, the Editors Guild of India, the Association of Indian Magazines and the News Broadcast and Digital Association.
The petitioners argued that the amendments to India’s IT Rules are arbitrary, unconstitutional and do not fall within the scope of reasonable restrictions on freedom of speech. The matter will now be placed before a three-judge bench of the court. Read on.

The Calcutta High Court | Calcutta High Court website

The chief justice of the Calcutta High Court has reassigned all cases relating to primary education that were to be heard by Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay. Gangopadhyay has accused a fellow judge,  Justice Soumen Sen, of acting in the interest of the Trinamool Congress.

In an order last week, Gangopadhyay alleged that Sen recently summoned another judge, Justice Amrita Sinha, to his chambers and told her that Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee’s political future should not be disturbed through legal orders.
Sen also allegedly asked Sinha to dismiss two writ petitions involving Banerjee that are pending before her.
The Supreme Court on Saturday stayed all proceedings before Gangopadhyay and Sen’s benches and transferred a case relating to an MBBS admissions scam to itself. More on Scroll.

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