22 July 2023 4:56 AM GMT
The Delhi High Court has directed the Archaeological Survey of India to produce records available with it regarding a notification issued by it in 1914 declaring a mosque situated inside the Qutub Minar complex as a protected monument. Justice Prateek Jalan was hearing a plea moved by the Managing Committee of the mosque, which was appointed by the Delhi Waqf Board, against alleged stopping...
The Delhi High Court has directed the Archaeological Survey of India to produce records available with it regarding a notification issued by it in 1914 declaring a mosque situated inside the Qutub Minar complex as a protected monument.
Justice Prateek Jalan was hearing a plea moved by the Managing Committee of the mosque, which was appointed by the Delhi Waqf Board, against alleged stopping of prayers in the mosque.
The mosque in question, referred to as the 'Mughal Mosque', is situated within the Qutub Complex. However, it is outside the Qutub enclosure and is not the famous 'Masjid Quwwatul Islam' where prayers are allowed. The restrictions on prayers at Mughal Mosque were imposed in May last year and continued since then.
Advocate M. Sufian Siddiqui appearing on behalf of the Managing Committee submitted that the mosque in question does not fall within the protected monument notified by ASI vide the notification dated January 24, 1914.
He also contended that namaz was being offered from the mosque from its establishment until May 13 last year when it was stopped by the authorities.
Taking note of Siddiqui’s submissions and preliminary submissions of the counsel representing ASI, Justice Jalan said:
“….it appears that the issues to be considered include inter alia whether the said mosque is included in the protected area under the notification dated 24.01.1914, and if so, the consequence thereof with regard to permissibility of worship at the mosque.”
The court directed the parties to file their written submissions, alongwith copies of any judgments upon which they wish to rely, within three weeks and listed the matter for hearing on October 13.
“The ASI is also directed to produce any records available with it with regard to the issuance of the notification dated 24.01.1914,” the court said.
Earlier, the Union of India had informed court that the mosque is a protected monument and that Saket court is seized of a matter concerning the same mosque.
On the other hand, it is the case of the Board’s Managing Committee that even if the Mosque is a protected monument, section 16 of the Ancient Monuments and Archeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 read with the relevant Rules provide that it is the bounden duty of the authorities to maintain the religious nature, sanctity attached to the mosque and to protect the right of worshippers to assemble and offer prayers.
"…the denial of opportunity to Muslims to offer Namaz in the instant mosque is a manifestation of muscular approach which is antithetical to liberal values enshrined in the Constitution and liberalism reflected in every aspect of life of common people," the plea states.
It adds: “Ex-consequenti, the authorities cannot maintain inexplicable and unconscionable silence for the simple reason that a citizen has a right to seek redressal of his grievance in a timely manner, and by such inaction, his rights as contemplated under Article 21 of the Constitution of India get curtailed, smothered and crippled."
Case Title: MANAGING COMMITTEE OF DELHI WAQF BOARD v. UNION OF INDIA & ORS.
Click Here To Read Order