Delhi High Court Issues Notice On Plea Against ASI’s Refusal To Permit Birth Anniversary Celebration Of Chhatrapati Shivaji At Agra Fort

Update: 2023-02-03 10:06 GMT

The Delhi High Court on Friday issued notice on a plea seeking permission to organize a cultural programme at Agra Fort on February 19 on the occasion of birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

Justice Prathiba M Singh was hearing a plea moved by Maharashtra based registered trust R.R. Patil Foundation along with Ajinkya Devgiri Pratishthan, challenging a communication of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) dated December 23, 2022 denying permission to organize the event.

The counsel appearing for ASI submitted that private NGOs and bodies or ordinary individuals are not allowed to organize such cultural events inside Agra Fort being a protected national monument.

“It is not a government body. If Maharashtra Government is involved, then it can be considered. Today it is one NGO, tomorrow others will say that there is some other reason they want to organize the event. This is a monument,” the counsel said.

It was also submitted that had it been a state sponsored or state supported function, “the situation would have been different.”

On the other hand, Senior Advocate Rajshekhar Rao appearing for petitioners relied on a letter written by Chief Minister of Maharashtra to the union minister of Culture in December last year with regard to organising the event at the monument on February 19.

The court granted time to Rao for obtaining instructions on the aspect if the event can be sponsored or supported by Maharashtra Government.

The matter will now be heard on Monday.

It is the petitioners’ case that they and people of Maharashtra are “emotionally attached to the Agra Fort” where Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and his son was “imprisoned and kept captive by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.”

The plea submits that ASI failed to accord reasons and simply rejected the petitioners’ request or application. It is added that despite the petitioners’ request through various modes and letters, no response was received.

“The Hon’ble Chief Minister of Maharashtra has also written communication to be considered positively for the event. The Petitioners cannot wait till eternity as the Birth Anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is on 19.02.2023 and cannot be shifted or modified and the undue delay and wrongful rejections affects the fundamental rights of the Petitioners herein,” the plea states.

It has been submitted that ASI’s action of denying permission have abridged the petitioners’ rights under Article 19 of the Constitution of India that deals with the freedom to organize events to promote, promulgate the heritage and social values of national figures and icons anywhere in the country.

It adds that a mechanical order passed by an authority is not sustainable and thus the impugned communication of ASI is liable to be set-aside

”That the Petitioners are willing to abide by any condition as imposed by this Hon’ble Court or Respondent Authorities and will conduct the event in an orderly manner. The Petitioners are further willing to give unqualified solemn undertaking to restore and preserve the monument after the event is over,” the plea adds.

Title: RR Patil Foundation & Anr. v. Archaeological Survey of India & Ors.


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