The Supreme Court on Friday said its interim order of May 17, directing protection of the 'Shivling', which was purportedly discovered during the survey in Varanasi's Gyanvapi mosque, without impeding the right of Muslims to offer namaz there, would continue, pending disposal of application challenging maintainability of the suit by Hindu parties, and thereafter for a period of 8 weeks.

A bench, headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and comprising Justices Surya Kant and P.S. Narasimha, said taking in view of complexity of the issues involved in the suit and the sensitivity, the suit before Civil Judge, Senior Division, Varanasi should be tried before a senior and experienced judicial officer of the Uttar Pradesh Higher Judicial Service.

The top court directed the transfer of the case pending before Civil Judge, Senior Division to the District Judge Varanasi for trial.

The top court also asked Varanasi's District Magistrate to consult with parties to ensure that appropriate arrangements are made for 'wuzu' (pre-prayer abolutions).

Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, representing the Committee of Management Anjuman Intezamia Masajid Varanasi, contended that the status quo of 500 years had already changed by sealing the premises and added that the status quo, which existed before, must continue.